Tech City is the brand given by the government to the thriving creative technology industry around Shoreditch in east London, which is home to over 3,000 firms and over 50,000 staff.
The government has previously talked of ongoing investment, ambitiously hoping to create a tech hub to rival Silicon Valley. According to #includedesign, Tech City is now under threat due to the British government’s radical overhaul of education.
In a press release, Joe Macleod, #includedesign campaign lead at digital design studio Ustwo, said: “For those of us working in Shoreditch, we’ve appreciated and supported the government’s Tech City initiative. Any attention, support and investment in this area is a good thing. However, recently, we feel Michael Gove’s proposed EBacc has undermined this positive initiative by demonstrating a lack of real understanding when it comes to the needs of companies like ours.”
The reasoning behind such negativity is the new EBacc qualification’s strong emphasis on core subjects (such as English, maths, sciences, a foreign language, and a humanity) and the dismissive attitude towards creative subjects, like design. The knock-on effect could be a generation of children who lack an interest in, and skills for, the careers required to keep Tech City afloat.
Speaking directly to .net, Macleod accused the British government of hypocrisy: “We’re furious. It’s like the government’s saying, ‘We love this kind of approach [of Tech City] in the world, but we’re not going teach it to our children; we’re going back to this 18th century approach, which other countries are doing better than us in’.”
For Macleod, the decision to exclude design from the EBacc is particularly nonsensical when considering cold, hard figures: “The UK makes a lot of money from the kind of thing Tech City promotes and it’s efficient. In fact, the industry grew 29 per cent during the last recession. But we now need people to come into the industry to fuel it. We desperately need people coming out of school who are creative. But, if the government devalues creative subjects at school level, we’ll lose a generation of people who value creativity.”