What are the true skills gaps within the UK today?

What are the true skills gaps within the UK today?

Forget Brexit. Forget today’s top tech talent and their strengths and weaknesses. We’re talking about the next generation…the kids that will deal with even further leaps in the UK’s future technological progress.

For the past few years the acronym STEM has been batted about like a shuttlecock in a game of badminton. Though this covers Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, it’s clear that Science and Mathematics currently trump the other two subjects on any school’s curriculum. Perhaps seen as fundamental for a greater number of disciplines, science and maths are certainly favoured, regardless of what the job market craves.

That’s certainly what a new study has shown: that science and mathematics are not as in demand as tech skills by frustrated employers.

Research by CW Jobs found that more than two-thirds (68%) of British employers believe an education in technology is far more welcome and useful than equivalent candidate achievements in science and/or mathematics. The collective warning that came out of the study was for jobseekers to ‘future proof’ their careers by plugging any gaps in their tech knowledge. This recommendation is not altogether altruistic, as it also future proofs employers’ businesses in the process.

80% of the leaders surveyed recommended candidates push tech skills to the top of their C.V., in order to influence hirers and so that they’re chosen for interview over similarly-adept-but-tech-skills-lacking rivals. Cyber security, cloud skills, and especially coding, were cited as specialisms in demand, and skills already lacking in the job market.

These knowledge gaps led three-quarters (73%) of UK business owners to voice their concerns as to why such subjects are not taught in schools; they believe technology should be an equal subject in both primary and secondary education. 86% stated that they would ‘consider partnering with a school or college’ to ensure an outcome that would benefit their companies in the future.

In the short-term, employers suggested government-backing and investment into additional training programmes and apprenticeships. Technology moves too fast to wait for the next generation to solve the problem, the belief is that something needs to be done now, if we’re to remain competitive on the world stage when it comes to technological advancement and innovation.

The European Commission believes that there may be as many as three-quarters-of-a-million unfilled tech jobs by 2020, which is already around the corner. Given that some experts believe we are heading towards a fourth industrial resolution - where the boundaries between physical, digital and biological will become increasingly blurred - this does not look like a problem we can afford to ignore.

The EC cite big data analytics as the major discipline in coming years, with app innovation close behind. The need, therefore, for programming and development skills will only get stronger. One of the issues with the world of technology, however, is the need to be ahead of tech development; employers fear that, by the time they have an abundance of skills in one area of discipline, those skills will be considered obsolete as another advancement becomes the digital norm. So, what’s the answer – how can UK Plc ever hope to keep on top of the skills needed to push business forward?

This is where a basic understanding of lots of disciplines, taught from an early age and reinforced year on year by an adaptive curriculum, will help. General knowledge of lots of tech elements, it seems, will be more helpful than an outstanding knowledge of just one. As new trends and technologies evolve, this general skills base can be built on and adapted for a business’s current needs.

A career in tech should be seen as lifelong learning. Paired with endless energy and an abundance of resilience and you have a very attractive candidate indeed.

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