How the Thames Valley FinTech scene is helping the region stay competitive

Alastair Paterson our consultant managing the role

Renewal, Recovery, and Growth - these are the three stages mapped out in the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Skills Report 2022, a report that maps out local skills and strengths needed to rebuild the economy following the pandemic. While Covid-19 sparked a string of challenges, it also accelerated digital transformation by around seven years. As a result, the next two years are pegged to go down in history for strong economic growth.

The Thames Valley Berkshire Local Skills Report 2022 summarises the areas of employment and skills that need an injection of investment. However, for any initiative to be triumphant, it requires collaboration between local government, industry, the educational sector and civil society. This is the key to elevating skillsets and enhancing employment prospects for Thames Valley's 640,000-strong labour force.

What is the hoped outcome of the report? To bolster Berkshire’s economic competitiveness, create a push on productivity and support the well-being of those in the community. We have summarised the report highlights and what they mean for the Thames Valley's fintech scene.

Berkshire’s labour market

With a population that is ageing faster than the UK average, Berkshire’s skills strategy is firmly under the spotlight. The overarching aims are to support developing and struggling sectors and inspire the next generation of talent. A cocktail of Brexit and Covid-19 has brewed a unique concoction of uncertainties for the labour market. Between July 2020 and June 2021, 103,400 people were economically inactive in the region, with around one in four voicing  they were looking for employment. 

The core challenges for Berkshire’s labour market are:

  1. Labour shortages
  2. Skills shortages
  3. Wage stagnation
  4. Older workers leaving the labour market
  5. Remote working

Evidently, a low number of applicants is a top obstacle for employers, and, according to the report, these companies are struggling to fill around a third of professional roles. Conversely, remote working is creating more competition amongst those candidates. In 2021, remote vacancies increased by 3,433, and there are no signs to suggest a return to pre-pandemic levels. Often, the narrative surrounding the benefits of remote working means employers have the flexibility to source talent outside of the Thames Valley region.

Two agendas that stand out for addressing these challenges are ‘Build Back Better’ and ‘Levelling Up’ - both supported by the Skills for Jobs white paper. A standout message from the UK government document is that wherever people are in their career, they deserve access to the skills needed to be successful. 

The Skills Action Plan

The Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has outlined the Skills Action Plan to ensure that communities have access to the training required to develop their desired skills, as well as training for skills that will support the local economy. The skills priorities and next steps listed are:

  • Support both young and old workers

  • Inspire life sciences talent

  • A diverse tech sector

  • Boost sustainability skills

  • Grow creative capacity

  • Encourage greater participation

  • Create an inclusive talent strategy within Berkshire

Growing sectors within the Thames Valley

There are several sectors that the Berkshire region has placed a specific focus on due to the unmistakable opportunities and challenges. These include:

  • Adult social care

  • Haulage and logistics

  • Digital and technology

  • Construction

The report details numerous pioneering initiatives, such as partnerships with colleges, upskilling events such as The Curious Lounge, and the creation of the Berkshire Opportunities platform. These aim to help all Thames Valley residents find 'good' work and ensure  no one is left behind. 

'Good' work refers to jobs that demand a high level of skills. Since Berkshire saw a modest but notable increase of 1.6% in the number of people employed in higher-skilled jobs - putting Berkshire above the English average - the challenge is helping these people find jobs where they can put their talents to use. The promising news is that 'good' work is on the rise. The increasing automation of mainstream tasks has led many to question whether AI is a threat to workforces. However, evidence indicates that this shift is placing greater importance on premium skills, such as problem-solving and communication.

Local employers told Thames Valley Berkshire LEP that the specialist skills they found most difficult to access in the local labour market were digital technology, engineering, customer service and analytics skills.

LOCAL SKILLS REPORT | 2022


What does this mean for the fintech market?

A dynamic fintech hub

With almost 70,000 digital technology specialists - twice the national average - Berkshire has successfully put a stake in the ground and marked itself as a leading digital cluster. The country is set to generate £10bn in annual turnover for the British tech economy, resulting in the Financial Times hailing Berkshire as the Silicon Valley of the M4 corridor.

As vacancy numbers for programmers and software development professionals, information technology and telecommunications professionals n.e.c and IT specialist managers increase, fintech firms have the opportunity to tap into this growing talent market and diversify their existing pools. After all, for the UK fintech sector to build back better, employers need to create more inclusive workplaces.

How do you source the right candidate in a growing sea of talent?

Let Marks Sattin support your fintech recruitment needs

Marks Sattin is a heritage recruitment brand with over 30 years of experience supporting our clients with interim and permanent recruitment, from transactional staff to the director level. Our teams are known to be specialists in their markets, whether that is technology recruitment or finance and accounting recruitment.

With offices in Reading, Leeds, the Netherlands and beyond, we have a team that is stationed and ready to support you. Get in touch to start the conversation.

09/05/22
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