UK tech sector has employment void; Favors experience over graduates

UK tech sector has employment void; Favors experience over graduates

Summary: A UK research thinktank finds the technology industry in the United Kingdom is set to grow five times the national average this decade, with 30,000 graduates expected to help fill a void.

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TOPICS: Telcos, Networking
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A UK research thinktank found the technology and telecommunications industry in the United Kingdom is set to grow five times the national average this decade.

As a result, 110,000 new recruits will be required to stabilise the UK economy and the tech industry, with only one-fifth of the new recruits coming directly from further and higher education.

The report, however, says that the IT industry favours "experienced workers either from other sectors over young recruits from the education system". This issue stems from not just shortages in skills, but an ailing economy and difficulty gaining basic employment at the low end of the IT employment spectrum.

1 in every 20 people employed in the UK work in the IT industry, showing a huge capital behind investment in technology. With on average 70 graduate students applying for the same job, there is a huge disparity in potential for younger, well educated Generation Y prospective employees in the job market.

Another alarming statistic from the research shows only 18% of the IT industry in the UK shown as female.

Karen Price, chief executive of E-Skills UK highlighted the need for "for continued action to attract talent from all sources, particularly women", as well as a new programmes aimed at helping younger people into the sector.

While the report shows that nearly 20% of all new recruits to fill this void of 110,000 new employees needed in the sector coming directly from education, the job market is still favoured for the older, male Generation X employee with experience under their belts.

Once again, the state of the IT industry of a hegemonic, male-dominated, and younger-person unfriendly workplace becomes apparent.

Topics: Telcos, Networking

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8 comments
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  • An education sector so bad

    at home masters of computer science students are employed as taxi drivers.

    For those with actual skill, we've never made so much. A few less MS schooled students would be a good start.
    Richard Flude
  • A few comments.

    Firstly, I think the fact that the "IT-Worker" population is aging can at least be partly explained by its emergence as a new profession over the last 40 years. It pulled people in young, and they have simply aged.

    Secondly, at least in software development, the productivity disparity between the best and the average is far larger than the pay disparity. In other words, it pays to hire the very best you can find; and that usually means finding someone with a track-record to prove it.

    This might not be the best long term approach (one day all the experience will retire), but high staff turnover in IT is kind of offputting to anyone thinking of setting up a graduate scheme.
    njoho
  • RE: UK tech sector has employment void; Favors experience over graduates

    Of course employers prefer more experienced workers to less experienced workers. Why is that even noteworthy?

    You can employ someone with a proven track record and real-world business experience... or you can employ someone who's never done anything of consequence and is a complete gamble. Hmm, tough decision that!
    DrPizza
  • Look beyond the numbers ...

    @ Zack ... Your "young person-ness" is showing. ;)

    You seem like a bright and basically upbeat guy. And despite your youth, you happen to have landed a pretty sweet gig in the world of IT. Of all people, please don't fall into the "generational trap" of lumping people together by age group. It won't benefit you or your readers. Look deeper into the reality behind the superficial data and do a favor for yourself and your readers, especially the younger ones.

    IT, like any industry, favors those who have what it values. In locations and firms where IT is focused on creating stable systems, experience (sadly, it comes only with age, you can't just buy it) will be favored. Experience teaches people what works predictably and what doesn't, and so stability favors experience.

    But not all the world of IT is focused on creating stable, soon to be legacy systems. I happen to live in an area where IT focused on creating new things, and I can tell you that your description of the IT world couldn't be more completely off target. Here, it's all about fresh ideas. I'm surrounded by mostly younger people, and a pretty equal mix of men and women, of all different ethnic and national backgrounds, doing very creative work. Here, no one cares if you've done I.T. for 20 years, they want to know what new, amazing, revolutionary things you can create.

    And who is more likely to be thinking new thoughts ... the gray hairs or the new kids on the block?

    Don't suggest to your younger readers that they face grim prospects finding work in an industry that refuses to value what they have to contribute. Instead, look around, globally and in your own nation, and find the existing portions of the IT market and specific firms that already favor youth, knowledge of the latest tech, freshness of ideas and revolutionary thought ... because those markets and firms are creating new and ground breaking products and they want youthful energy.

    There are pros and cons to every age and level of experience. And the smart use of this fact is to focus our job search on those gigs which actively want what we have to offer instead of complaining about our inability to land a gig for which the hiring managers find us ill suited. Square peg, round hole.

    I'm the old guy working in a young biz because I found a way to present my age and experience as something the younger folks could use and benefit from. I'm in the minority here, but instead of complaining, I found a way to take what I had and fit it to the needs of the people doing the hiring.

    I'd strongly suggest that you connect your readers with information about where the leading edge of IT is hungry for bright, fresh young minds. You'll go a lot further, a lot faster connecting younger IT pro's with meaningful opportunities than by simply claiming "Once again, the state of the IT industry as a hegemonic, male-dominated, and younger-person unfriendly workplace becomes apparent."
    Trep Ford
  • Those numbers should lead to optimism for IT grad students

    I'm trying to understand some of the math
    - the number of workers in tech and telecom will grow at 5x rate of growth in UK pop; so if UK pop/jobs grow at a 1% rate, then tech jobs grow at a 5% rate
    - 5% of UK workforce is employed in IT; so approx 1m IT workers
    - roughly 3% of the workforce retires every year
    - so IT needs about 3%+5%=8%, or 80000 new workers per year; let's halve that to 40000 new workers per year to take care of all the approximations
    - even if some companies are playing musical chairs with IT staff, that will cause a rise in salaries; and increased salaries should lead to increased supply. And that will provide the incentive to hire younger, less expensive workers.
    - I'm not sure why this math points to pessimism for IT grad students
    abhagat
  • Looking at my team...

    ...there are 6 developers.<br><br>2 are recent Graduates, 2 are female (including one of the Graduates), the rest of us are all under 30 (and have been out of Uni for between 3 - 8 years).<br><br>So 33% of the team are recent Graduates, and 33% of the team is female. I'd say that the 33% of young and relatively inexperienced developers is about the right percentage. However the entire team would be considered young.<br><br>You have to take into account that inexperienced staff require training, training costs (most of the time a lot of) money. So suddenly your inexperienced staff member is beginning to cost closer to the same as some with experience. Companies are in it to make money, not to employ any old Graduate who needs to pay off their tab at the Student Union.
    DevJonny
  • RE: UK tech sector has employment void; Favors experience over graduates

    About time.

    IT has been junking experience for cheap/off-shored disposable workers or for years, and looks like they have found there is almost no-one left that understand how their systems work.

    New Graduate - "Windows NT, What's that :-)"
    neilpost
  • Zack: Less Innovation, Older IT Community?

    I mentioned in my last comment about looking to where innovation happens for younger IT demographics? When it comes to innovation, I see the UK ranks rather low (according to this ZD posted article). Maybe that explains why the IT market you see there is older on average than you'd prefer.

    http://www.smartplanet.com/business/blog/smart-takes/top-10-countries-for-innovation-us-leads-germany-japan-follow/13881/
    Trep Ford