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Careers in Tech 2020

Reskilling and retraining: the key to an accelerated economic recovery

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Cindy Rose

CEO, Microsoft UK and Ambassador for London Tech Week

We need to get serious about addressing the digital skills gap that has been holding Britain back even before the pandemic.

With 750,000 jobs lost since the start of lockdown, and the furlough scheme ending in October, these are undoubtedly challenging times. But like many in my industry, I’m an optimist. In technology, we are always looking for the opportunity to forge ahead no matter the constraints.

Using LinkedIn data, Microsoft data scientists predict nearly three million new UK tech jobs by 2026. Sadly, as things stand, we do have not enough skilled people to fill them. Not enough computer science graduates, not enough diverse candidates and not enough young people – especially young women and minorities – considering technology as a career. 

Impacting businesses

Like the rest of the world, Britain experienced two years’ worth of digital transformation in the first two months of lockdown. COVID-19 has created an unprecedented reliance on digital skills. We find ourselves in a “hybrid economy” where some are returning to the workplace while others continue to work remotely. Even the most traditional jobs have become “tech-enabled,” requiring employees to acquire and use ever more digital skills. 

To bridge the skills gap, every employer has a collective responsibility to reverse the two-decade decline in on-the-job learning investment, help upskill current employees and quickly train new employees in new and necessary skills.  

Britain experienced two years’ worth of digital transformation in the first two months of lockdown. COVID-19 has created an unprecedented reliance on digital skills.

Diverse Opportunities

Everyone, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity must have opportunity to learn and develop the digital skills required to secure stability and success in their careers. I applauded the Chancellor’s July announcement investing more than £2b into the “kickstart” plan aimed at preventing “an entire generation being left behind” including a pledge to provide 30,000 new traineeships for young people across England. 

In late June, Microsoft launched a global initiative to bring digital skills to 25 million people by 2021. It brings together every part of our company, combining existing and new resources from LinkedIn, GitHub, and Microsoft and is available for free at Events such as London Tech Week are so important, not just to bring our industry together, but to show people from all walks of life what a career in technology can look like.  

By working together and making the right investments in our collective future, we can accelerate a recovery marked by inclusive economic growth and expanded opportunity for all.

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