Ask any business owner in the digital sector what the biggest hurdle they are currently facing and the answer will be unanimous: talent acquisition.
Even with unemployment hovering close to ten per cent in many countries, a remarkable number of CEOs are still having a hard time finding and retaining staff. Good developers and data scientists have become a mythical occurrence only on par with the unicorn and phoenix. As a result companies are being forced to either seek out highly-trained international recruits to plug holes in their workforce, or to constrain the pace at which they can grow.
It all begs a question of why our current education system is not up to the standards of the major tech firms?
In recent years there has been a significant refocus on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills. Despite this, the STEM skills Gap Report revealed that not only did 59 per cent of enterprises feel there was a significant skills shortfall in STEM areas, but, more worryingly, a jaw-dropping 79 per cent of the academic institutions themselves felt there weren’t enough students leaving university with the capabilities required to meet industry’s employment requirements.
This is particularly worrying given the consensus amongst both enterprise and education that STEM disciplines are essential for the UK’s future, with eight and nine out of ten respondents respectively feeling the skills gap needs to be bridged if the country is going to remain competitive in the modern world.
So what can be done to speed up this resolution? A popular opinion is that industry and academia must work more closely together. Businesses must find ways to ensure we inspire the next generation of IT gurus. With businesses doing more with schools, a healthy appetite and broad experience of
technology can be encouraged from an early age.
More businesses should also consider offering work experience and apprentice placements to schools, to give students a taste of what it would be like to work in the industry and to highlight the wide range of opportunities that could be open to them.
One company trying to address this problem already is technology company, Postcode Anywhere.
Postcode Anywhere, a software company based in Worcester, has set up its own technology foundation, the Postcode Anywhere Technology Education Foundation, endeavoured to promoting education in technology. The firm is also working very closely with Code Club, a nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children ages 9-11. Children create their own computer games, robots and learn how to use technology creatively. The organisation’s overall objective is to give every child in the UK the chance to code.
Guy Mucklow, CEO of the company said: “More needs to be done to encourage students to study STEM subjects in primary education. For too long now ICT on the school curriculum has been simply learning Microsoft Office and teaching children how to use technology rather than giving them insight into how it’s created.
“As an employer in the technology sector, introducing primary children to computing concepts in a creative and enjoyable way is important as it will provide encouragement and inspiration for students to take-up the study of computer science at higher levels.
“With technology increasingly defining how we perceive and interact with the world around us, there has never been a more urgent need for talented computer programmers.”
The digital sector is the country’s fastest growing industry and the government is pinning all its economic hopes on it for the economy; however any form of growth will need encouragement from both businesses and government alike.
The attitude towards technology for current and future generations can be changed if, businesses and government work together to show just how rewarding a career in technology can be.