In the loop: high-flying taxi plans and Britain’s skills shortage

As Instagram cracks down on bots and Lilium's air taxi returns from its first flight, a new report from the CIPD reveals that young people are lacking in digital skills

In the loop: high-flying taxi plans and Britain's skills shortage

Lilium’s flying taxi completes first test flight

Imagine hailing a flight from London to Paris with the same ease as getting an Uber from Richmond to Piccadilly Circus. Well, this may be more than just a fantasy relatively soon.

The creative minds behind Lilium, the Munich-based air taxi startup, envision a future where passengers can order an on-demand flight and zip through the skies at 300 kilometres per hour. And with the company’s aircraft having just completed its first test flight, that future is one step closer. At the moment, the two-passenger aircraft is being controlled by a pilot from the ground but the goal is to make the vehicle autonomous.

While there’s still a lot of work to do before Lilium’s first plane is available for commercial use, spontaneously hopping between cities is set to become a lot simpler. When it comes to entrepreneurial aspirations, the sky is certainly the limit.

Millennial investors are most likely to invest in British startups

If there’s one thing that the investors hate, it’s uncertainty. But with a looming Brexit and an upcoming general election, it seems as if Britain has question marks in spades. Fortunately, it seems like investors are still willing to throw their weight behind UK businesses.

Having surveyed 2,004 people, Crowdstacker, the peer-to-peer lending platform, has revealed that 54% of investors are planning to support British companies this year. Interestingly, millennials are more likely to invest in UK startups than their older peers, with 63% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 saying that they’re ready to invest, compared to 51% of those aged between 35 and 54. That number shrunk to 49% for those over the age of 55. The investors surveyed also seemed particularly interested in backing sectors like entertainment and leisure, manufacturing and retail.

So given the uncertainty in the climate at the moment, it’s encouraging to see that confidence in British entrepreneurialism hasn’t waned.

Instagram is cracking down on fake accounts by closing Instagress

Fake accounts and bots have always been a headache for Instagram. While the company did pledge to rid itself of fake accounts back in 2013, the problem has never really gone away. However, with the closing of Instagress, the follower-boosting platform, it seems as if Instagram may be cracking down on the problem.

Instagress worked by using bots to automatically like and comment on posts, enabling users to artificially ramp up their engagement rates and follower counts. However it looks like the platform’s time is up. Instagress has been closed down “by request of Instagram”, according to its website. And while some believe the move signals that Instagram is taking steps to stop the proliferation of bot activity, others have noted that there are similar companies providing comparable services to Instagress that are still active.

Whether this marks the first of a series of moves to come aimed at ridding Instagram of fake activity or just a one-off, it could for now be a little easier to see if people have the following they deserve.

Britain’s skills rank below OECD countries

The greatest resource of any company is the people working for it. Unfortunately, it seems as if Britain is falling behind when it comes to the skills of its workforce. In a new report from the CIPD, the professional HR body, England and Northern Ireland rank among the bottom four OECD countries when it comes to literacy among 16 to 24-year-olds.

Surprisingly, given the UK’s digital infrastructure and placed importance on developing computing skills in schools, the computer skills of the country’s youth ranked below 19 countries the CIPD had comparable data on. The report also highlighted that employers in the UK train their employees less than most other EU countries.
Commenting on the findings, Lizzie Crowley, skills adviser for the CIPD and co-author of the report, hoped they would “serve as a real wake-up call for the government”.

Considering that one of the most cited Brexit-related fears is that companies won’t be able to access talent from abroad, here’s hoping the government is paying attention.

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson

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