Arne Laugstøl, co-founder, new Developers Conference ();, on what the UK’s tech scene needs to thrive and grow
It is becoming increasingly important for UK technology companies, particularly those based in the London area, to make their mark and help ensure the UK continues to remain a main player within the technology industry worldwide. At NDC London, we understand the need to ensure the next generation is adept when it comes to software development and as a result, want to make sure the UK stays ahead of the game, ensuring interest from future generations, whilst preventing possible skills gaps in this integral sector.
The UK’s technology scene has expanded rapidly over the last decade, and London is at the heart of this growth. The EC1V postcode alone, home to London’s “Tech City”, recently saw an influx of 15,000 new businesses in the last year, outstripping any other area in the UK. Largely due to specific investment in core areas, this aimed to attract technology start-ups alongside established industry names such as Microsoft. From Bloomberg’s recent assertion, London may soon rival Silicon Valley2, and as a result UK companies need to step up to ensure growth, skills and momentum continue.
We recently conducted a roundtable with experts from Microsoft Research, Computing at School and Code Club. With the recent amendment to the National Curriculum to introduce computing, coding and programming skills, discussions emphasised it is an important time for the UK to ensure the Governmental changes are used to their best ability – enabling our UK tech community to grow.
That being said, following discussions and the publication of our report – ‘Developing Britain’, we have found that not enough is being done to prepare teachers to actually deliver the new Computing curriculum. As a result the onus is falling on the UK tech community, both businesses and individuals to volunteer time and skills in order for this to succeed. Arguably, if the tech community don’t do their bit, the UK will not be able to meet the increasing demand for software developers, and engineers and businesses may begin looking overseas. This is why it’s important to ensure we harness existing talent whilst inspiring growth in the developer community. The UK is now heavily reliant on our tech companies to support this curriculum change and as a result the tech community needs to be increasingly aware of its important role to ensure the future of the UK’s tech sector is safe.
Adults today often have preconceptions about “geeky” programming however during the 1980’s, the era of the 8-bit home computer, there was great interest in programming. That being said the advent of PCs led to a focus on actually using computers, and programming became less of a priority. We need to reverse the once negative perceptions and with the changes to the UK education system coming into effect in September 2014, this provides the optimum chance to generate interest in this subject starting with our youth.
Inspiring them to get involved, UK tech companies are needed to support teachers across the country who now have the task of implementing this updated subject, providing them with the assistance needed. Ensuring the UK tech community continues to thrive and grow, we also need to educate the youth of today on the multitude of options available with tech qualifications – generating interest on both levels.
Software development is fundamental to almost every industry, from home entertainment, to medical appliances, to transport. There is a need to support and equip teachers to confidently and enthusiastically deliver the new computing curriculum but moreover, we need to get the word out about just how important software development is to the wider economy.
In December this year, the new Developers Conference (); Ltd (NDC London) is launching in London for the first time. Bringing together some of the best experts in the industry to share knowledge, celebrate expertise, it will feature a host of exclusive talks including leading international experts. Celebrating technology whilst highlighting its importance, this conference aims to be the ‘festival for developers’ and will look at the evolution of the tech industry worldwide as well as touching on the UK’s involvement. We are aiming to impact the next generation during this conference by connecting tech companies and developers with our charitable exhibitors, Code Club to volunteer their time to ensure the education of the future workforce in the UK.
All in all, this is certainly a pivotal moment in which the developer industry is expanding and if the UK wants to keep ahead of the game, we need to ensure that government funding is accompanied by support from the tech community.
NDC London will take place at ExCeL on December 4-6 2013. For more information and to book tickets visit: ndc-london.com.