Nadine Dorries called for tech companies to look beyond tradition in the recruitment of talent, as the UK’s sector seeks to build on its position as the second-largest tech industry.
Speaking at London Tech Week, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) encouraged the British tech industry to be different to the industries of the past.
Referring to traditional industries like media, banking and finance, Dorries said “they all came from a certain background”, a background which overlooked the potential found in low-income estates.
Dorries drew on her own background living in a council estate in Liverpool, saying that while it’s difficult for people there to get the qualifications required to apply for high-level tech jobs, “critical thinking and creativity is something people are born with”.
Recruitment is something of an issue for tech as the demand for skilled workers has skyrocketed.
“I’m aware that 80% of all jobs advertised today require digital skills and I’m also aware you have a deficit of about 50% of those highly skilled individuals to work in your organisations,” said Dorries.
The MP pleaded with tech recruiters to bear in mind that in “low socio-economic areas”, they can find “people who will help their businesses grow”.
Dorries put a particular focus on looking to people outside the tech hub of London, going so far as to advocate London Tech Week rebrand as UK Tech Week.
“Tech isn’t just about London,” Dorries said, citing Manchester, Newcastle, Durham, Leeds, Sheffield and areas “of high social deprivation” as places where talented workers and affordable rents and business costs could be found.
The North of England has been ramping up its position as a British tech hub in recent years. While London remains the top destination for tech investments in the country, money is starting to be put into the North.