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Bridging the digital skills gap

I have been in the recruitment industry for longer than I care to remember (about 15 years if you must know) gone are the days of spending the whole day travelling to meet with one potential client, technology is now leading the way. From voice assistants helping us to plan ahead, and drones delivering our parcels to allowing our employees to work remotely. As businesses begin to embrace digital, I see the majority of vacancies requesting applicants have some sort of digital experience; the digital skills gap has never been more prevalent.

The advances in technology mean that the traditional workplace that I and thousands of others were once so familiar with has changed. I find myself arranging video calls with clients and collaborating with colleagues on apps such as Trello and Slack; my working day has become streamlined but yet I’m still constantly on-the-go!

When speaking to my clients, I find that social media and online presence have become one of the main focuses, with many customers interacting with a company online rather than on the phone. I am now tasked with sourcing candidates that have a whole host of new, and very particular, skills. In the latest figures released by UCAS of 532,300 students enrolling in further education, 76,490 of them studied Computer Science, leaving a shortfall for the 100,000 IT vacancies that were advertised. In fact, according to Experis’ Tech Cities Job Watch Report, the demand for big data professionals increased by 52% since last year, and if our estimates are correct, the market is only set to grow.

The U.K. is currently a leader in global IT development, but for us to remain in that position we need to nurture our talent pool. The impact that Brexit will have on our economy is still not fully understood however the tech industry has its concerns about recruitment post-Brexit. We source talent from all over, including the E.U., and Brexit may interrupt the way that recruiters fill positions.

Questions have also been raised about the amount of investment and funding that the tech industry will have access to.
All too often, the benefits of pursuing a career in, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) industries are overlooked, these roles are still seen as “male-dominated.” While the technology sector continues to attract men, we are missing female talent. According to a 2017 study by the ISACA, the main barrier experienced by women in technology is the lack of mentors followed closely by a lack of female role models in the field. With only 25% of women are working in IT positions and only 5% of tech start-ups being owned by women, it’s easy to understand why women are being deterred from a career in tech. 1991 saw the peak rate for women in computing roles at 36%, as a country we shouldn’t let it be another 26 years until a gender balance is achieved.

Although it may sound cliche, we need to capture imaginations during childhood. The interest in technology begins at a young age, we all know a child that can operate an iPad (or another tablet) before they can even write their own name. As we venture into secondary education, the onus is on us to decide our future, and I for one was definitely not clear on this, and so we look to our parents and teachers for guidance.
I launched Tiro with my business partner Paul Conaghan to bring a fresh, honest approach to recruitment. Combining expert knowledge with consultancy without any of the stuffiness synonymous with recruitment, our (currently) small recruitment team are competing with the big players, and we’re winning.

Our passion for the industry drove us to help bridge the skills gap from an early age. We recognise the importance of nurturing children and getting them excited about technology and encouraging young children to think about a career in technology and computer science by exposing them to the opportunities open to students who study a technology based subject.

Apps for Good work to bring schools to life with creative programmes where young people work hard and have fun while learning valuable digital skills. The responsibility to address this skills gap is on everyone, teachers, parents, the government, and employers. Tiro is a great supporter of Apps for Good, an initiative that is at the forefront of bridging the skills gap, with the aim of equipping students with digital skills and generating more able, self-confident, collaborative individuals.

William Excell

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