Universities are essential to all digital economies. They generate skills and innovation while attracting investment and talent. Eight of Europe’s top 20 universities are located in the UK. London alone is home to four of them: Imperial College London, University College London, London School of Economics and Political Science and King’s College London – more than any other European country, let alone city.
To ensure the UK’s academic pre-eminence is maintained, potential challenges associated with Brexit must be addressed. This includes ensuring the UK continues to be seen as a welcoming place to study, and addressing possible pressures on funding.
|Proportion of millennial with STEM degrees (2016)
|Republic of Ireland
Source: Eurostat, 2014
It is, of course, vital that these universities turn out ‘work ready’ graduates with the skills that employers across the digital tech sector urgently need. Foremost amongst these are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths) skills. The UK and France have Europe’s greatest proportion of millennials with STEM degrees.
Even here, however, the numbers studying STEM subjects are too few. Indeed, this shortfall of STEM graduates is a challenge across the continent, where STEM entry requirements and drop-out rates tend to be high, and participation by women in particular is low.
|Number of Tech Meetups (2016)
Source: Github, Tech City UK, 2016
Data from Github (one of the world’s leading developer platforms) allows us to map the exact location and density of digital tech skills across the continent. It is Europe’s leading open-source platform for developers, with nearly 90,000 active users across 18 digital tech hubs last year. Its sheer size means that analysis of its users, and the programming languages in which they specialise, can give us a snapshot of the different digital tech skills harboured in each hub.
Over a quarter of Github users are located in London – almost twice as many as are found in either Paris or Berlin.
Narrow that down to users with the key digital skills and languages of Ruby, CSS, HTML and Scala, and around a third are based in the UK capital. In fact, there is high user activity across all of the top 20 programming language specialisations in London, indicating a significant breadth of skills.