Tech City: Digital skills scheme to get young people jobs
PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 March 2015 | UPDATED: 10:07 16 March 2015
Tech City is the third largest technology hub in the world, and it’s right on our doorstep. Each week, the Gazette brings you news from the thriving area around Old Street Roundabout. With National Careers Week taking place this week, Shekha Vyas discovers a scheme aimed at getting young people on the Tech City career ladder.
Digital companies in boroughs taken from Tech Nation data using DueDil search tool
Tower Hamlets 469
Tech City chiefs are backing a huge initiative to get young people involved with the burgeoning industry and address the digital skills crisis that businesses face.
The WeAreDotDotDot project is an online platform aimed at connecting London’s youngsters with digital courses, apprenticeships and events to help them gain essential skills for jobs in the sector.
The scheme emerged from an employment report by Centre for London and will roll out across Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Newham on March 25.
The report’s figures show employment rates in Islington went up by about six per cent in 2013 to 2014, compared to the previous year.
Despite this, Centre for London’s Jess Tyrrell, who runs the project, said there was still a job shortage in the tech industry with companies seeking out young talent to address the problem.
There are more than 1000 technology companies in Islington alone, and the number is growing every day.
Jess said: “There is a lot of genuine goodwill in Tech City, especially in the start ups. A lot of people working in Tech City really like the culture and the geography and feel an affinity to east London.
“Therefore it is about connecting the community more with Tech City and thinking how we can link these opportunities to young people who live in these boroughs and what the exciting prospects are.
“If we make these better connections with these existing opportunities we can then make them much more accessible to young people. In Tech City it can be difficult to say which door to knock on as there is not just one big door, but lots of small ones.”
Jess added: “The good news is there are lots of programmes that are growing that can really help connect young people. If you are seven or eight, you can go to code clubs down in Google Campus. There are lots of things for older young people as well, like tech city apprenticeships which are getting bigger and better, but they still struggle to get young people applying to them.”
The WeAreDotDotDot online platform will allow children as young as five, up to 25 to search for opportunities by their location.
Natasha Lynch, 12, of Almorah Road, De Beauvoir, said she heard about the project through attending technology events with her school.
She said: “I have always been interested in how our younger generation can contribute to technology and make it even more exciting. I think it is important because technology can open so many other doors to a better or more knowledgeable world. People say it can be overwhelming but if we learn more about it then it can be interesting for everyone – old and young. It is a new form of discovery.”
The WeAreDotDotDot project has also received support from organisations like Barclays, the Mayor of London and Tech City UK.
Jess said: “We have spoken to a lot of local authorities and political people and so we know that all the boroughs are keen on having something like this. We have four very distinct boroughs and we want to bring that together with the private sector to offer something significant to them.”
Jess added: “I’ve lived in east London for 15 years on the border of Hackney and Tower Hamlets and I’ve seen the area change a lot. I think it’s very exciting but I think it needs to be inclusive and I am passionate about the importance of creating ways in which we are as democratic as possible about who gets to succeed from the opportunities in Tech City.
“It’s important for the fabric of our community and what we call home otherwise there is a danger that we have this divided community between the rich and poor.”
Tony Margiotto, manager of the Central Working Space in Whitechapel, where the project is being run has been providing space to facilitate the courses.
Working with more than 800 Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs), he said the project would invaluable in helping these start-ups scale up.
He said: “We have this space which is amazing and it is just one of many, and the whole idea is that we are creating this space that is the ideal environment for, not only small companies to grow, but equally space for young people to come in and be taught by these experts.”
Those interested in signing up can attend a sneak preview on Wednesday at Central Working Space, in Mile End Road, to get a sense of how the platform works. People can also pre-register for the site on wearedotdotdot.com.