THE BLOG

People Will Drive the London Tech Boom

02/07/2014 17:24 BST | Updated 01/09/2014 10:59 BST

Ten days ago, 30,000 people attended a veritable jamboree of technology events, as London Technology Week hit the capital.

Coinciding with this, South Mountain Economics announced that the capital's tech industry is outstripping growth in Silicon Valley with employment in the tech sector increasing 11 percent in the past five years. At the same time Oxford Economics' research showed London's technology sector could add an extra £12 billion and 46,000 new jobs by 2024. Everywhere you look there are signs of the tech boom in London; from the new Salesforce Tower in Broadgate, to Silicon Roundabout and Tech City.

Much of London's technology boom is based around applications. Most tech start-ups in the capital are in the business of providing some kind of app or something that supports them. Mirroring this, consumer and business appetite for downloadable software seems insatiable. The App Economy is predicted to be worth $151bn worldwide and will be worth €63bn in Europe by 2018. London is very well-placed to take advantage of this opportunity, but for one little snag: app economy success relies on an abundance of coding skills.

And, as I have written previously, London along with all other parts of the UK - and indeed Europe - is currently experiencing a serious technology skills shortage. The European Union is still predicting 900,000 IT-related job vacancies across its member states by 2015.

It is vital for the sector that a new generation of skilled coders is nurtured and that IT skills are encouraged from a young age. Innovations such as Raspberry Pi, after school computer clubs and coding in the classroom are helping to make technology skills accessible for the next generation. This will no doubt help London in the future when, ideally, coding becomes a second language.

As for the older generation, who are currently in the workforce, we too can learn to code. The technology industry is a continuum of reducing complexity; this is true for coding. The ease of writing an application today is worlds apart from perhaps seeing a COBOL, Fortran or Basic language programme from 20 years ago. Therefore, we should not think that coding is very difficult to learn: it's not. Thanks to training organisations like Decoded, the urban myth that coding requires an abundance of technical knowledge has been smashed and it's time for us all to give it a go.

The tech industry has played a critical role in pulling Britain out of recession and is continuing to do so. However, sustainable growth depends on many underlying factors, including talent. We have heard much about the danger of banking talent moving abroad but what about tech talent? If tech is to continue to be a powerhouse sector then it requires the right skills, from both our generation and the next.

With access to these coding skills, London can continue its enviable, recent tech growth record and could even be the undisputed, global tech leader by the time we get to London Technology Week 2024.