We can’t talk about the success of the UK Fintech industry without acknowledging the elephant in the room—the skills gap. If we are to maintain the positive development of the sector, we need more talent.
UK at the top of the international fintech scene
A recent global survey, published by the London Stock Exchange and TheCityUK, found that the UK was identified as a top-three market for international fintechs considering cross-border expansion. Yet, the uncertainty around the country’s immigration policy looms ahead, foreboding a crippling lack of talent that could pull the sector back by £361m. What’s more, 58 per cent of respondents to the UK FinTech Census 2017 reported that they considered attracting suitable and qualified talent as one of their top three challenges, with access to coding and software skills being of particular concern.
Scotland paving the way
For the industry to build a healthy and sustainable talent pipeline, collaboration between the private and public sector is essential. We should look no further than the Scottish Fintech scene for inspiration. Already known for its growing and dynamic Fintech hub, the sector is expected to create 15,000 additional roles over the next 10 years—with the ambition to become one of the top five Fintech locations worldwide.
Scotland’s strong Fintech ecosystem is supplemented by Fintech degree courses offered by the University of Strathclyde, the University of Stirling and, most recently, Edinburgh Napier University. Their contribution, however, doesn’t end there; academia plays a major role not only in the early development of talent, but also in creating industry links.
One such example is their involvement in Spotcap’s Fintech Fellowship, an £8k award for postgraduate students pursuing a career in fintech. Forty-two universities supported the programme last year, creating an opportunity for other industry stakeholders to get involved in addressing the skills shortage.
Stephen Ingledew, chief executive of FinTech Scotland, forms part of this year’s judging panel. He comments: “The growth of the Fintech sector can only be achieved by developing people’s skills to take advantage of the rapid pace of technological change. This will be most effectively delivered by a strong collaboration between industry and academia, harnessing the talent from all sections of our communities.”
Academia, government and industry working together
The skills gap is real, and the industry needs to take action. If each Fintech organisation brings its own unique approach to addressing the issue, the UK talent pipeline would ultimately become richer. But why stop there? We could achieve considerably more by working together. The Fintech Fellowship was launched to show the potential behind Fintechs collaborating with core institutions, and it is enjoying considerable success.