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State of Open: The UK in 2023 Phase Three "Skills or Bust"

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State of Open: The UK in 2023 Phase Three "Skills or Bust"

Open Source Software is the Submarine under the Digital Economy in the UK and globally. It underlies all our technology ecosystems whether the internet, cloud, AI and ML or blockchain. It is the plumbing and plumbers’ tools of our digital infrastructure. The people who crew that submarine are based across the globe and work collaboratively across geographical borders irrespective of geo-political shift.

Having focused on the economics of Open Source in Phase Two of this State of Open: The UK in 2023 report, and the UK companies powering the submarine, in this Phase Three the focus is on the people who crew the submarine - the UK’s Open Source Software contributors. These individuals are often home working, many if not most, are internationally employed and they often contribute to Open Source Software projects as part of their employment and also in their personal time.

Who are these people?

Despite forming a substantial part of the UK Tech Sector, contributing 27% of its GVA in 2022, the UK’s Open Source Software contributors have been invisible to their home country.

Frequent international travelers, they come together with others in the same Open Source projects and ecosystems across the globe. They are likely to work with and have strong relationships with global colleagues but may well not know their geographical neighbors from the locally facing UK tech sector. In the same way as the Open Source Software companies were seen in Phase Two to be often ignored and unrecognized the individuals are frequently missed by the UK. (This is not specific to the UK but common across all countries outside the US). Some have previously lived in and returned from the US, whilst others have made a conscious decision not to move there. Most, if not all, would be easily employable in the heart of the tech world - the Bay Area. At the same time this UK community would have been much bigger but many left as part of the talent flight to the US we are all too familiar with. Those who are UK based are able to be as Open Source companies hire globally based on skills not location.

Companies contributing through UK employees

EPAM’s research indicates 20 companies with contributions to Open Source code bases from contributors in the UK. Location data is notoriously difficult to retrieve from contributors as, in GitHub from which this data is drawn, the location field is not mandatory and it is represented in a string5. Still, getting a sense, however partial, of the breadth of contributions from UK-based contributors to code bases from these global organizations suggests the size of the Open Source community in the UK and the breadth of skills required.

Read the full report here.

Learn more about leveraging the power of the global open source community here.