A recent report has identified that students taking IT GCSEs has fallen and computing GCSEs in schools has fallen by almost 15,000 [11%] in the past year alone.
The report identifies that more needs to be done to ensure students have the confidence, resilience and key skills to take them to the next level of education, an apprenticeship or into work.
What can be done to ensure young people have the right skills to fill tech roles? Recommendations include.
- Adjusting the national curriculum to put creative and technical subjects at its heart
- Giving schools more resources to give better careers information and guidance
- Ensuring students have a better understanding of the opportunities in the digital technology sector
- Building relationships between local employers and schools to make learning relevant to the world of work
Hewett recruitment have been offering workshops to local schools that offer an insight into the future of jobs and encourage students to perhaps consider careers they may have overlooked before.
“Whilst the main sectors are well-known, many young people don’t yet fully understand what versatile career opportunities are available within each field,” says Ben Mannion, Director at Hewett Recruitment and Chair of Connecting Schools and Business in Worcestershire. “Many may dismiss companies or roles, within IT or Engineering for instance, due to their perceived lack of suitable skills. We wanted to open their eyes to all the other roles in divisions such as marketing and IT which are available within those fields and which they might not have necessarily considered.”
Report author and director of policy and research at Edge Foundation, Olly Newton warned of the need for technology- and digital-related subjects to be a core part of the national curriculum.
“If things continue as they are, in a couple of years there will be one million tech vacancies in the UK, and yet the number of students taking IT and computing GCSEs in schools has fallen by almost 15,000 [11%] in the past year alone,” he said.
Commenting on the report, shadow education minister Gordon Marsden said: “The scale of skills shortages in the UK is alarming, especially so when you consider that more than half a million of our young people aged 16 to 24 are not in education, employment or training.”
Having clear pathways into the sector was found to be especially important for women and girls, as currently only 17% of the UK’s IT specialists are female.
“In a sector like tech, where we already have a critical digital skills shortage, we simply cannot sit by as large groups of society become alienated,” commented India Lucas, skill, talent and diversity policy manager for non-profit techUK. “Tech cannot innovate if the minds behind it all think, act and look the same – diversity breeds innovation.
“We need to improve the representation of women and other groups in tech and much of this work starts in schools. We must do more to demystify the tech sector to students, teachers and parents; providing students with an insight into how our sector works in practice. One way of achieving this is through quality careers guidance and mandatory work experience,” she added.
Andrew Stevens, president and CEO of CNet Training, said: “Our labour pool is limited and without a dedicated pipeline. The responses [to this problem] must come from a collaboration between industry apprenticeship providers, higher and vocational education, schools, and industry representative groups.”
Newton stated that if the skills argument isn’t enough to provoke change, then the economic impact of inaction should be.
“If the government is not persuaded by the educational case for curriculum change in our schools, then the economic argument is incontestable. This report summarises the skills crisis in the tech industry and it’s not going away without some bold measures in our schools, colleges, universities and workplaces,” he said.