Not enough young black men are going into tech or construction says London mayor Sadiq Khan, who is moving to change this.
Just 5% of London’s tech sector, which is worth £56bn to the economy, comprises young black men. As part of his workforce integration network programme, Khan is set to address this.
The initiative follows previous work done by the network in June this year, to encourage more 16-24-year-old black men into the construction sector in the capital where they are underrepresented. This project attracted 20 organisations – including Kier, ISG, Laing O’Rourke, and Balfour Beatty – together representing a workforce of more than 100,000.
Khan said: “It’s simply not right that young, talented and ambitious young black Londoners are not being given the opportunity to prosper in the capital’s thriving tech sector.
He added: “I’m determined to ensure no Londoner is left behind as we recover from the pandemic. Someone’s life chances should never be limited by their family’s background or the colour of their skin.”
The mayor’s scheme takes a systems approach, instead of focusing on skilling-up this part of the workforce and encouraging them to apply for jobs in the sector, it brings businesses together to look at existing practices and ways of working, to discover the barriers for young black men gaining entry.
Following on from this, businesses are supported over the course of a year to come up with a tailored action plan to reverse the trend tackling areas across recruitment, supply chains, workplace culture, data and progression.
Russ Shaw CBE, founder of Tech London Advocates, and Global Tech Advocates, supports the mayor’s scheme. He said a survey his organisations had undertaken earlier this year found 53% of black tech leaders felt companies had failed to make significant diversity and inclusion changes.
Shaw said: “There’s an abundance of opportunity in tech – with vacancies at record levels – and a key step in filling those is engaging with more diverse demographics.”
He advocated expanding the pool from which the sector hires and trains tech workers, as well as improving retention, and said much more work was needed to improve diversity and inclusion.