Home Business News Rajeeb Dey: How can we overcome the UK's massive tech talent imbalance?

Rajeeb Dey: How can we overcome the UK's massive tech talent imbalance?

6th Sep 13 6:32 pm

By 2015 we could be facing 900,000 unfilled tech jobs in Europe. The CEO of Enternships calls for action

George Osborne has just promised that all students will learn to code from September 2014.

The new national curriculum will require that all students study “theoretical ideas and practical problems”, and understand “algorithms, programming languages and the architecture of the internet”.

It’s a bold move, and one that in my opinion can’t come a moment sooner.

The fact is, if the digital employment landscape stays as it is right now, by 2015 there will 900,000 unfilled tech jobs in Europe.

We are very used to highlighting the issues of mass youth unemployment, worrying about an economy that does not have any jobs to offer for our over-qualified graduates – but the fact is, there are jobs.

Hundreds of start-ups, SMEs and corporations are desperate for brilliant technical talent, but don’t know where to find it.

Similarly, thousands of young people are looking for inspiring, innovative and challenging work, but don’t think that the skills they have will transfer to a rapidly shifting, tech-led world.

Currently, one in every 10 graduates is unemployed six months after leaving university, and there are over 80 applicants for every one position on traditional graduate schemes.

It’s clear that in the current climate, there is a mismatch between the skills desperately needed, and those that students are leaving university with. So what can we do to address this?

One of the key facets is education. Osborne’s plans to introduce coding into the national curriculum breathe new real life into the prospects of the next generation, but the fact remains there is still a whole generation of young people leaving university now, unsure of which path to follow.

The skills they possess don’t necessarily match with the increasingly technical demands online business, and feel lost in a sea of technology.

So whose responsibility is it to train these young people? And in the meantime, how can we help these exciting young start-ups to grow, when they they’re struggling to get access to the talent they need?

Last week, the O2 Arena hosted Telefonica’s Campus Party, a six-day festival dedicated to technical innovation.

As well as world-renowned speakers, hackathons, gaming marathons and boundless innovation, they are helping us at Enternships to showcase brilliant startups and SMEs in a festival-wide Careers Fair, designed to help expose fantastic young companies to the technical talent they need to grow.

For me, what’s exciting about this is seeing massively successful companies such as Telefonica working with fledgling businesses with a real spark of innovation, to showcase the best possible opportunities for these technically minded youngsters.

For self-starters, the entrepreneurially-minded, and people who love the idea of real opportunity and responsibility, a career in an agile start-up is perfect – but these jobs often get lost among the slim opportunities within big brands.

It’s up to these larger companies to see the value in smaller pockets of innovation, recognise the worth in advertising positions of training and growth throughout the UK, and to help the digital economy collectively by championing the opportunities within our younger companies.

We need government, corporations and start-ups to work together to get more young people excelling in the skills of the future, and to make sure for talent is not out of reach for the companies that are innovating here, now.

In return, we need to press the value of training on the job, of skill-building internships, in online technical courses such as those offering by sites like Couresa, Coder’s Academy, Maker’s Academy – ways in which we can get young people innovating now.

Yes, the education system needs to change, but we must remember that learning does not end when we finish school or university.

By challenging the companies who require technical skills to provide training, and by working with bigger companies to provide ways into the kind of career path students and graduates may not even know existed, we can help forge a generation of talent that can begin inspirational work now, not in 10 years’ time.             

Rajeeb Dey is an award-winning entrepreneur and a 2012 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. He is the founder of Enternships, a platform for students and graduates to find internships and jobs in startups and SMEs and co-founder of Start Up Britain. Follow him @rajdey and @enternships

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