UK Creates Mandatory Coding Classes, Free Online University to Lead Digital Economy

UK Creates Mandatory Coding Classes, Free Online University to Lead Digital Economy

The UK is making a big bet on the future of the digital economy and if the past five years are any indication of the future, it’s bet could pay off big. Just this week, the UK launched a program called HQ-UK aimed at attracting U.S. companies looking to setup a European headquarters. Baroness Joanna Shields is leading the project and she says the launch of the program comes at a time when the UK is ready to open its doors to the U.S. tech industry. Sheilds said, ‘The government has been working very hard over the past 4 years to make digital a bigger part of the economy.’ Today, 7.5 percent of the UK workforce works in tech and digital businesses, half of those jobs didn’t exist five years ago according to Shields. This Fall, coding classes will be mandatory in schools and the UK has also developed a group of online courses dubbed the digital business academy. TheStreet’s Ruben Ramirez reports from New York.

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the UK is launching a new initiative aimed at attracting us-based tech companies to build their international headquarters in the UK the program's called HQ UK and here with us is Berenice Joanna shields digital economy adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron thank you so much for joining us we appreciate it Thank You Reuben why launch the initiative now well we've been working very hard over the past four years to make digital and technology a growth area for the economy and I'm happy to say that right now we have the largest percentage of digital companies anywhere in the world operating out of the UK so what we're trying to do is all the work that we've done in preparing the the market for you know thriving and growing businesses in the UK we want to open that up to two companies from the US as they make their decisions to choose an international headquarters now you've worked at Google Facebook a lot of other well-known tech companies is it tough to find talent in the UK in the tech sector well the UK government has made digital you know talent and national priority so we have made coding mandatory in our schools where the first country to do that across the all of the UK starting in September we built our own MOOC you know massive online open course working with Cambridge University in University College London called the digital business academy to turn out digitally savvy workers because as you know digital cuts across every sector now so people need different sets of skills and they almost need to retrain all the time so we want to make that accessible to people and we have four of the top 10 universities in the world in the UK so we're pretty we I think we're turning out a lot of talent the highest talent you know per capita in terms of graduate degrees anywhere in Europe and so is it tough for these companies that are starting out to find some of those talented people well you know I think the best way to find talent is in the clusters last week we released a report called technician and we profiled 21 clusters across the UK so it was a big data exercise of analyzing all the clusters in understanding what their core capabilities and competencies were and what we do is we tell people to hang out in the accelerators hang out in the incubators and spend time in the community where you know it looks like the talent you know that you need is going to be located and you'll find that town one of the interesting things that I saw in that study was that all the tech startups aren't based in london city proper they're all over the country we're very proud of London it's a tech powerhouse for sure but we have seventy four percent of the companies are located outside of London now so we have seven point five percent of our workforce that are working in tech and digital businesses now which is absolutely incredible and that's fifty percent of those didn't exist five years ago you've said in the past that for startups looking for series a series b funding that that's been available in the UK but a lot of times when they start looking for those bigger rounds that they end up coming to the US are you starting to see that trend change at all or are you finding that there are more venture capitalists in the UK wanting to take a bigger chance absolutely I think there's a recognition that we have this whole cohort of strong high-growth companies moving through the growth trajectory and making their way eventually to hopefully public markets or you know an acquisition or M&A opportunity and we have made it our priority to shine a spotlight on those companies we have a group of companies called future 50 and we do everything for them that they need to make sure that the world knows the talent they have you know the business that they're building and their potential to grow here in the US there's a lot of talk about diversity in the tech sector what are you seeing in the UK are they having to deal with the same issues that we're dealing with here in the UK in terms of finding people of color finding more women to lead some of those tech startups we started four years ago trying to foster the development of clusters across the country and I think that helps with diversity because if you are empowering equally across all the regions you're going to be able to tap into different ethnic and minority communities you get a chance to tap into you know mother's coming back to the workforce after having children so we really focus on you know the unique strengths of those economies and working on unique models for working you know working smart for people who want a job share and various other things berenice Joanna shields thank you so much for joining us today we appreciate it thank you very much for the street ruben ramirez in new york thank you so much for taking Sarah

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