The Midlands' Tech Industry updates – Key points to takeaway
by Laura Murphy
05/06/23Back to insights
On the 16th of May, the University of Warwick hosted a brilliant event celebrating the exponential growth of the tech industry in the Midlands. The occasion not only marked the official announcement of Birmingham Tech as Tech West Midlands, but it also highlighted the region's soaring tech sector worth, now exceeding 15 billion.
This blog post reflects my key takeaways from the event and emphasises the power of collaboration, the importance of digital adoption, and the pressing need to address the skills shortage in the Midlands, which was also highlighted at a more recent event in London.
Three key takeaways from this event for me were:
The Power of Collaboration:
The Midlands firmly believes in the transformative potential of cross-sector collaboration. This event showcased the region's conviction, supported by evidence, that working together across industries will result in a stronger and more resilient economic future. By building a robust local economy, the Midlands can unlock a multitude of economic, social, and environmental benefits. To achieve this, a digitally inclusive ecosystem must be cultivated through collaborative efforts between the government and the private sector. It is essential to extend inclusivity to all community members who have yet to engage with digital technologies.
Tech Growth and Levelling Up:
To unleash the Midlands' full potential and contribute to the UK's levelling-up agenda, the West Midlands Combined Authority has devised a Plan for Growth. This plan aims to harness the region's technological potential. The first step was to appoint a new Tech Commissioner, Martin Ward, as a champion and advocate for the Midlands. Martin's role will involve amplifying the region's offerings among businesses, investors, and other stakeholders. By focusing on targeted training, rebuilding businesses, and promoting inclusion, Martin aims to help residents, particularly the unemployed, those in low-paid jobs, and underrepresented groups, re-enter the workforce. Collaboration with Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, ensures that the region's digital and tech strategy benefits all.
Addressing the skills shortage:
The skills shortage was a recurring theme at the event and something we at Tile Hill hear across all sectors, but it is particularly apparent in the digital and IT sectors as digital is accelerating in all walks of life. To tackle this challenge head-on, initiatives like Digital Bootcamps have been implemented to support employed residents in upskilling and securing more digital responsibilities or promotions within their current employment. Additionally, reforming the apprenticeship levy to facilitate greater training opportunities and investing in the public sector's IT and digital capabilities will be crucial in bridging the skills gap. Martin Ward also stressed the growing demand for cybersecurity experts, emphasising the need for awareness and proactive action.
The skills shortage underscores the significance of building a strong ecosystem and fostering constant collaboration across all sectors. Employers must invest in internal infrastructure for continuous development and upskilling while also actively engaging external stakeholders. Tile Hill aspires to play a crucial role in connecting and developing a vibrant ecosystem for the region's economic and social benefits. As Zphaniah Chukwudum, Director of Local Government at Microsoft, aptly stated at the event, "If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together." The Midlands' tech growth journey requires collective efforts and collaboration to propel it towards a prosperous and sustainable future.