Watch now: Facing their digital future - young people and employment
During London Tech Week, techUK hosted a webinar alongside the week's Future of Work Summit exploring how employment in the tech industry has changed for young people due to the pandemic, and what tech businesses can do to continue to encourage young people from all walks of life to enter the thriving tech sector.
For this session, we were joined by panellists:
- Kate Croucher, Global Lead Talent Sourcing, FDM Group
- James Uffindell, Founder and CEO, Bright Network
- Patrick Aylmer, Founder and CEO, Learning People
- Martyn Evans, Head of Product, Unboxed
- Nimmi Patel, Policy Manager - Skills, Talent & Diversity, techUK
Challenges and opportunities in the UK
Kicking off the discussion, our panellists highlighted the need to broaden the industry’s idea of what talent look like, looking beyond typical experience to identify different skillsets across the workforce.
An ongoing mysticism around careers in tech was also raised – though in the context of a distinct opportunity post-COVID to shine a light on the importance of tech as it touches every part of our lives – alongside other key challenges including the need to diversify the workforce and ensure students feel ready for the world of work as they leave education.
Supporting young people to enter the world of work
In the tech sector, there is still some confusion about what a career in tech looks like, with our panellists noting that a tech career can be analytical, creative, or anywhere in between. The conversation recognised that most career advice comes from parents and provides a partial view, highlighting the key role for tech and data in curating and finding opportunities for students to build career capital.
The panel emphasised the importance of a variety of initiatives such as skills bootcamps, campus workshops, and the Kickstart scheme in broadening industry entry points, providing opportunities to attract young people from all walks of life into tech. However, drawing upon their organisation’s experience, one speaker said it takes about a year for students from skills bootcamps to be ready for chargeable client-facing roles, underlining the need to support businesses to nurture the talent they need and support students through their career journey.
Attracting and retaining talent
For businesses, retaining talent is just as critical as supporting and recruiting it, particularly in the context of a highly competitive landscape and skills gap. Our panel agreed that an emphasis on values and culture is essential to ensure employees feel included and respected within an organisation and have access to critical career opportunities. For most young people, it is not primarily about earning well, but about progression and development as Bright Network’s research shows.
Drawing the conversation to a close, our panellists outlined some of the actions that tech leaders, HR professionals and recruiters must take as the tech sector continues to work on closing the skill gap and ensuring young people have the confidence and opportunities to pursue a career in tech. Speakers raised the need for a positive learning culture and staff learning networks within businesses, employing initiatives such as reverse mentoring to take advantage of young people’s perspectives.
The key takeaway was that industry and tech leaders must change the narrative on where tech talent comes from, reflecting on assumptions and listening to other perspectives as we seek to make progress in this space.
Jake has been the Policy Manager for Skills and Future of Work since May 2022, supporting techUK's work to empower the UK to skill, attract and retain the brightest global talent, and prepare for the digital transformations of the future workplace.
Previously, Jake was the Programme Assistant for Policy. He joined techUK in March 2019 and has also worked across the EU Exit, International Trade, and Cloud, Data Analytics and AI programmes.