Skills upgrading, retraining and innovative recruitment will solve the tech skills shortage

A degree in computer science is not a compulsory qualification for those working in technology according to the new ” Explore the paths to technological careers Research report released today by WISE, an organization that aims to achieve gender equality in STEM by fostering diversity in sectors across the UK.

Only 28% of survey respondents had degrees in computer science, while 43% had degrees related to STEM subjects (excluding computer science) and 29% had degrees not related to STEM subjects. WISE believes this, along with other information from its research, provides an opportunity for employers to think more creatively about how they might fill their technology skills gaps.

Kay Hussain, CEO of WISE, explains: “Considering that the latest estimates suggest that we will need an additional 1.5 million people with advanced skills over the next two years, it is clear that 26 to 28 000 UK computer science graduates a year are not going to be enough. Employers need to remove barriers to entry for those not in IT and be increasingly creative in how to find new talent from non-traditional sources.

“In the face of a severe skills shortage, it makes little sense that women are always under-recruited, under-retained and under-promoted in technology roles. All of our research participants agreed that how a person thinks and approaches their job is more important than having a computer science degree. Our advice to employers is to focus on the skills required for the roles rather than just the qualifications – this is likely to significantly expand their recruiting pool.

WISE’s latest research aims to identify skills gaps in current technology and digital technology training paths, and to learn more about the paths employees take to embark on a technology career (both traditional and non-traditional).

The survey confirms the importance and value of transferable skills for STEM employers; About half of the people interviewed for the research arrived at their technical post by a non-traditional route, either by retraining or by using existing skills. Interviewees said their original qualifications, often unrelated to STEM, gave them useful skills. Among the most appreciated were communication, leadership, logic and data analysis, creative problem solving and enthusiasm for learning.

Kay adds, “Over 50% of tech workers surveyed said non-tech skills such as communication were more important in their day-to-day roles than technical programming or coding skills. I hope that the recognition of the value of transferable skills will encourage more women to apply for technology positions and to build new careers in these high paying, high impact roles.

Other main research findings include:

  • Women are more likely to take part-time courses than men; 60% of courses taken by respondents were part-time overall, women were 50% more likely to have studied part-time compared to their male colleagues.
  • Companies are increasingly turning to corporate universities and online training academies to train and develop their staff.

WISE also warns of a potential new gender divide in the roles men and women choose in tech. The organization highlights data collected during interviews suggesting that women and men choose different career paths across the subjects they take as additional qualifications. The results of the WISE survey showed that men tend to upgrade in roles such as engineering or systems architecture, while women choose to upgrade in product and project management, as well. as in business and management roles.

Kay Hussain, CEO of WISE, explains: “These roles undoubtedly require a degree in computer science or at least a fairly lengthy internal training. The move to the cloud and the increased use of software over hardware means that this traditional training is required less frequently than before, but it remains imperative that we continue to push for a better gender balance in IT education. traditional in order to achieve gender parity in these areas as well. This push must go hand in hand with the expansion of recruitment practices and the recognition of transferable skills.

WISE makes several recommendations to employers looking to increase their attraction, retention and retraining of employees, including:

  • Remove barriers to entry for new entrants to the labor market from non-IT backgrounds seeking retraining
  • Put more emphasis on skills and not qualifications in job advertisements
  • Publish career opportunities in unusual places to attract candidates who wish to retrain and those who have been on a career break
  • Provide mentoring and coaching opportunities to develop and retain staff
  • Collaborate with educators to improve the transferable skills of new entrants to the labor market
  • Increase the visibility of role models and career advice

Kay concludes: ‘Building on the momentum of changes made by employers to working practices during the pandemic, UK tech companies are uniquely positioned to further diversify, create cultural change and close their gaps in skills. Acting now could put more talented, skilled and retrained women at the very heart of the UK’s tech industry.

Survey infographic:

Roads to Technology Report

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