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Indian Talent Will Help Tide Over The Million Person Tech Expertise Shortfall: techUK’s Simon Spier

Indian Talent Will Help Tide Over The Million Person Tech Expertise Shortfall: techUK’s Simon Spier

The UK India Tech Alliance is a partnership with NASSCOM which is part of the Official UK India tech partnership signed by the Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Theresa May.

The India and UK technology partnership is growing at a faster rate than ever before. At the recent London Tech Week 2019, there was a significant focus on furthering these partnerships. The UK believes that India presents huge opportunities for a partnership on the development, sharing of technology, and also for investment in terms of money as well as domain expertise. According to official figures as of April, there were 842 Indian companies operating in the UK at the end of 2018, and it is expected that Indian investment in the UK would outpace both China and Japan. There are more than 1,10,000 people in the UK working for Indian firms, and the number of Indian firms in the UK has gone past 850. The turnover just from the Indian firms in the UK is more than £48 billion.

These numbers don’t come easily though. This is where a body such as techUK gains even more significance. As things stand, techUK represents as many as 900 tech companies based in the UK, to help them with expanding within the country as well as abroad, including with policy issues. The companies that are a part of techUK include Microsoft, Google, Facebook, TCS, Genpact, and Vodafone. “We have 900 members ranging from startups through to large multinationals to the likes of BT and Vodafone but also we have a number of non-UK globally headquartered tech companies as members, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and so on from India TCS, HCI Wipro, Genpact and others who are members. And as an organization where that helps shape policy so push for tech-friendly legislation, but also work on market engagement, so to support company's growth, both UK and internationally,” says Simon Spier, Head of International Trade, techUK.

At the moment, techUK has a partnership with Nasscom. “Our sister organization is NASSCOM, that's probably the easiest point of comparison. And we work very closely on them. My role as head of international trade is to work with our members to help them understand and realize opportunities outside of the UK to work internationally to encourage and support investment into the UK. And to work on the policy to make those two things a bit easier by reducing some of the friction. We have a number of India specific initiatives,” says Spier.

There are two India specific initiatives which Spier is mentioning. “We have created something called the UK India Tech Forum. And we also have signed the UK India Tech Alliance. The UK India tech Alliance is a partnership with NASSCOM which actually forms part of the Official UK India tech partnership signed by the Prime Minister's Narendra Modi and Theresa May. And the idea behind that is to support policy collaboration supporting bilateral trade and to look at some of the challenges, says Spier. The skills and talent gap among other issues is where the official relationship between NASSCOM and techUK bears fruit. “And we have also formed within techUK, the UK India tech forum. This is a specific group that looks at how we can improve the bilateral trade picture bringing in UK SMEs and Indian SMEs, UK corporates, Indian corporates as well as other multinationals that play in both the UK and India. We also bring into that other bodies such as the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the UK India Business Councils Chamber both the British High Commission in India, the Indian High Commission and the UK and probably some others that I'm forgetting,” he adds.

The idea behind that is to look specifically at some of the opportunities and challenges as it relates to a UK company trying to do more in India, whether an SME is just getting started in international expansion or whether large multinationals are facing challenges.

But what really are the big opportunities which this partnership can take the most advantage of? “I think there's perhaps the most focus and the most potential, and this isn't to say there isn't potential in other areas, but particularly around health technology, around identity and cyber security around FinTech and around smart cities. There is a natural opportunity for both UK companies going out to India. I think, for Indian companies coming into the UK, India is incredibly good at producing tech ready graduates in a way that the UK just isn't able to do it at the scale that's necessary. So just to expand on that, at any given time, there is a significant shortfall in terms of the number of employees the UK tech sector needs and what is able to be supplied,” says Spier. According to official estimates, by next year, there will be a million person shortfall in the necessary domains in the UK, and the Indian tech talent is believed to be a part of the solution to that.