By Zeshan Sattar, Senior Director, Learning & Skills Certification at CompTIA
Technology has developed and advanced tremendously over the last decade, weaving its way into our daily lives as society continues to grow pragmatically dependent on it. The benefits these solutions can provide for both individuals and businesses are endless, offering a variety of products and services which ultimately lead to great success.
However, while technology offers a range of benefits and continues to rapidly progress, the sector itself is suffering from a major issue which remains impossible to ignore.
A significant skills shortage
Currently, the UK is experiencing a gap in the tech industry, with a significant shortage of confident individuals who, although possess some of the key skills to work in tech, lack the confidence to do so, hence the substantial amount of vacancies caused by the rapid growth of the sector. Consequently, UK businesses are suffering as their chances to innovate and compete globally are hindered by the lack of workers with the essential tech skills needed for success.
According to techUK’s recent Digital Economy Monitor, as of Q3 2022 a staggering 57% of UK IT firms found the talent and skills shortage to be one of the biggest barriers for their companies. This skills gap could be attributed to several factors, including a lack of investment in education and training programmes, a failure to appeal to and attract underrepresented groups including ethnic minorities and lastly, the quick pace of technological evolution.
Training for triumph
Though the UK and its businesses may be under pressure to close the tech skills gap, there remains a simple yet effective method of solving this problem: implementation of localised training programmes.
Localised training programmes are defined as training and education programmes that are tailored to meet the specific criteria of local communities. Recent research finds that adult (19+) education and training participation has increased by 5.7% from 2021/22, highlighting the determination of people to invest in themselves through the power of learning. These programmes are designed to provide people with the confidence and skills to move into new careers, while at the same time help provide local businesses with access to a pool of skilled and professionally trained workers.
Training and retraining programmes have a wide array of benefits, with one key advantage being that each programme is tailored to the criteria and needs of specific regions. For instance, Tech Discovery, an explanatory four-week training course in Lancashire focuses on skills that are in demand in the local tech industry, such as cybersecurity, data analytics and software development. Cyber Ready, a retraining course in West Yorkshire is an award-winning programme designed to bring more high paying, skilled jobs into the region and help to build on West Yorkshire’s developing tech industry. This approach ensures that the training is relevant to the needs of the local market and individuals, and that programme graduates are well-equipped with the knowledge and experience needed to fill the tech skills gap in the area.
A secondary advantage of localised training programmes is their capacity to offer individuals with practical, real-world experience. Many programmes are produced in partnership with local businesses, which gives students exposure to real-life situations and helps them in building the essential skills that are directly applicable to the tech workplace. This approach also aids in creating closer relationships between local businesses and the education system as a whole, which can lead to many more job opportunities and robust economic growth within the region.
By taking into account regional and underrepresented groups and tailoring programmes to meet their needs, there is no doubt that these programmes will encourage people of a more diverse background, including women, ethnic minorities and disabled individuals into the rapidly growing industry. This can lead towards a more inclusive workforce which promotes equality and leaves room for creativity and innovation. As a result, these programmes will provide a promising solution to the UK tech skills gap and ensure that the tech industry continues to grow and thrive.