The technical skills gap has been an ongoing issue in the UK for several years. Fast innovation of the tech industry has been the catalyst for a surge in demand for tech talent. But a significant skills shortage is making it difficult for companies to match supply with demand; consequently, failing to develop products and meet targets.
Whilst the increasing lack of technical skills is alarming for the industry, there are solutions to bridging the gap, starting from an educational level:
Integrate coding into the curriculum from a primary level
The tech industry is growing at a faster rate than UK universities are producing graduates, one of the significant causes for the skills gap. Prior to the days of Brexit, UK companies could hire candidates with the required skills from the EU and other foreign countries. However, since the introduction of the 2021 migration restrictions, the process for hiring skilled migrant workers has created more barriers, limiting the options available for UK tech companies.
The rate that the industry is growing means there isn’t enough people to fill these vacancies; the current technical skills gap won’t vanish with a quick fix, changes must be made from the very start of the educational system. The UK’s only option is to make innovative changes to education in order to produce more graduates with technical skills. Notwithstanding the demand for more graduates with IT skills, there is still no set curriculum for coding and data science in primary and secondary education. By integrating coding into the curriculum from a primary level, children will be introduced to modern technical concepts from a younger age, developing fundamental skills which they can use to progress onto prosperous careers in tech.
Supporting modern career prospects in primary and secondary education
A vital component to reducing the skills gap is to provide modern, high-quality career advice to secondary pupils. According to the Home of Assessment & Qualifications, offering advanced career advice is key to maximising the value of a pupil’s education, as well as broadening their horizons in terms of career opportunities and assisting them in making good choices about their future. It’s paramount that children and young adults are informed about what society needs in terms of employment, what career paths are sustainable, and are taught the types of jobs that will put them in good stead for the future.
Educating children on the benefits of pursuing a career in tech – constant and growing demand for skills, high salaries, and exciting opportunities – will accelerate the number of young adults studying coding, data science and IT security in higher education, alleviating the skills shortage.
Abolish tech stigmas amongst children and young adults
Whilst there have been progressive steps taken to counteract stigmas in the tech industry, many still persist. Society needs to put an end to the assumption that a career in tech will be spent hiding behind a computer screen, alone in a room, and focus on the many attractive attributes of working with technology.
Despite advocacy for diversity in the UK tech industry, currently only 26% of the UK tech workforce are women. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why there is such a significant disparity between genders working in tech, but one solution could be ensuring girls of a young age are educated on and inspired about technology.
The technical skills gap would benefit from providing engaging and practical education to encourage a wider demographic into the industry. By demonstrating to children and young adults that technology can be interesting, even by highlighting examples of apps, social media platforms, e-commerce websites etc. that are used by them daily, were once coded by a team of developers, might spark an interest in technology for young girls. And by grabbing the attention of a wider demographic, more individuals will further their education in tech and go on to pursue a career in IT.
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