FinTech has skyrocketed in popularity providing an accelerated evolution of solutions to problems the pandemic has created – from developments for e-commerce platforms allowing people to do much more than shop online to creating advancements in backend technology enabling people to widen their banking functions online. The UK has always been a FinTech leader and for us to retain our global position and continue to provide innovative solutions it’s vitally important we continue to grow a strong pipeline of talent.
UK FinTech has had plenty of hurdles thrown its way from the pandemic to Brexit, yet we have continued to see the UK FinTech sector attracting a significant amount of investment. Recent data from Innovate Finance reveals how FinTechs based in the UK attracted $5.7 billion of venture capital in the first half of 2021 alone, supercharging the growth of start-ups and scale-ups nationally.
Whilst we’re currently securing a significant level of investment for our burgeoning sector – this will not continue if we don’t work to solve our talent shortage which is very quickly becoming a problem within the sector. Skills gaps will continue to widen if we create a plethora of job opportunities without the talent to match. The Kalifa Review of FinTech uncovered how 67% of the UK’s fastest FinTechs consider talent to be a high priority of issues that need tackling.
FinTech firms are situated across the whole of the UK with the potential to create high-income tech-based employment as well as playing a part in upskilling and retraining the existing workforce. According to the recent Kalifa Review of FinTech, the sector’s direct GVA contribution to the economy is estimated to be £13.7bn by 2030, with job creation contributing to 70% of this so we must have a skilled workforce to keep up with demand.
We must teach people of all ages the specialist skills required to future-proof the sector. Brexit is not the only negative impact making it harder for the tech industry to secure talented individuals. There has been a reduction in interest from young people taking up courses in the computer sciences from GCSE through to degree level study. Consequently, it is more important than ever before to encourage young people to learn the skills required for a career in FinTech and related industries by providing education opportunities that are closely aligned to jobs of the future. Developing a generation of homegrown talent would help alleviate these growing issues with study routes that are anchored in practical and problem based pedagogies to create confidence in students’ capabilities.
As a result of Covid-19, around 700,000 young people have progressed from education into an extremely difficult jobs market according to Government research. FinTech can provide young people with access to employment opportunities in an exciting and expanding sector.
But more is needed to support students to understand these opportunities and that’s why Staffordshire University London is launching an undergraduate degree in FinTech from September 2022 to equip individuals with the skills required to have a rich career in the FinTech sector. The new FinTech course allows students to learn alongside students on sibling provisions in Artificial intelligence, Cyber Security and Data Science & Informatics providing wider learning routes.
It’s key we give people the opportunity to understand the fundamentals of FinTech – from software development to accounting principles to understanding the essentials of cybercrime and fraud. People who want to get a job in the sector must have both a theoretical and practical understanding for a successful career and this will also be essential to ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of leading-edge technology development and investment.
The course will prepare students to enter a range of roles related to the wider area of FinTech from FinTech software developer to Algorithm developer, and we continue to work closely with industry leaders like Google, Amazon Web Services and CISCO, to name just a few examples, to ensure our teaching curriculum remains up to date.
Moving forwards, it’s key that we inspire the next generation of school and college leavers to undertake degrees that provide a launchpad for careers in FinTech as well as offering mature students pathways to reskill for a job or career changes in the sector. Its integral Universities offer sector-specific courses to ensure people get the skills required to thrive and fuel our tech pipeline. This is why our core ethos for curriculum development is founded in our industry collaborations and networks.
Matt Brindley-Sadler is the Director of Staffordshire University London