Starting a career in the digital economy

One of the age groups hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic within the UK has been children aged 16 to 24 years old. While the country now has nearly 700,000 fewer workers of all ages employed compared with a year ago, consistent with the newesfigures from the Office for National Statistics under-25s account for an enormous 60% of these who have lost their jobs.

Unsurprisingly then, a recent report published by research and knowledge service, the House of Commons Library, reveals that unemployment among children rose by the maximum amount as 13% within the half-moon (October to December 2020) compared with the primary quarter of the year (January to March 2020). As a result, a complete of 14.4% of them – the equivalent of 589,000 – are now out of labor , the very best level since 2016 and up from 11.3% a year ago.

To make matters worse though, because high numbers of under-25s have traditionally been employed in sectors like hospitality and leisure, which are badly suffering from the country’s repeated lockdowns, the foremost likely age for workers to be furloughed now stands at 17. A key concern is that a lot of more will lose their jobs when the scheme involves an endways 30 September.

But the present relatively healthy position of the tech sector appears to face in stark contrast to the present gloomy scenario. A Tech Nation report entitled ‘UK Tech for a Changing World’ shows that over the last two years, the industry has actually created 2.93 million both technical and non-technical jobs – a jump employed terms of 40% – and now accounts for a big 9% of the whole national workforce.

Moreover, Michael Houlihan, chief executive of Generation UK, a not-for-profit spin-out from management consultancy McKinsey & Co that gives intensive tech training programmes for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, believes this growth in demand is unlikely to slow any time soon. “The UK will create three million tech jobs by 2025, which may be a huge number and offers such a lot promise,” he says. “The problem is that there’s not three million people coming off the conveyer belt , and university, the normal point of entry into tech, can only make a comparatively small contribution of a couple of 100,000 over subsequent few years.”

The trouble with apprenticeships
But an inadequate graduate pipeline isn’t the sole challenge that the industry faces – apprenticeship provision is experiencing problems too. for instance , consistent with the Office for National Statistics, the amount of apprenticeship places available last summer across all sectors plummeted by 45.5% compared with an equivalent period last year as employers reined in expenditure. A study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development entitled Covid-19 and therefore the youth labour market confirmed that 57% of medium-sized employers had declined to supply apprenticeship schemes over the previous 12 months, a figure that rose to just about four out of 5 among small employers. Government incentives to undertake and reverse the decline also seemed to have little impact, with only 5% of employers saying they might consider hiring apprentices as a result. As a result, the experience of Ikra Masood, who joined networking giant Cisco’s scheme in 2020, isn’t uncommon. She applied to innumerable employers before finding success, with some saying they lacked the resources to require apprentices on et al. unable to verify either future start dates or numbers of potential places.


Learning a replacement job and inducting hires when performing from home has been tricky for workers and employers alike.
Pro bono data skills programme, in tandem with job placement agencies, has the aim of coaching 10,000 people.
Paradoxically though, it had been the economic situation and scarcity of other opportunities created by the pandemic that encouraged Masood to maneuver beyond her temperature and pursue a “more future-proof” career in tech within the first place. Although it had been a neighborhood that had always interested her, she had previously lacked the arrogance to travel for it “because I never thought I’d be good at it”, she says. Moreover, points out Vanessa Hua, who features a degree in neuroscience but took part in Generation UK’s 12-week Get into Data Engineering bootcamp and is now a junior data engineer at comparethemarket.com, the industry as an entire can encounter as rather offputting to outsiders

“People – and that i know I definitely did – desire someone who works in tech looks a selected way, features a specific education and comes from a selected background,” she says. Lack of clarity and hard competition
Another thing that doesn’t assistance is the length and vagueness of the many job descriptions, which make it unclear which “traits and skills the employer wants or needs”, says Hua. this example makes candidates ask themselves whether “you should even bother applying because you think that they won’t even check out you if you don’t have 100% of what they’re after.”

Nonetheless, she does believe that tech has become an “increasingly popular career option recently”, not least because many children were forced into home learning. this suggests that “they’ve come to know how useful technology is and therefore the central part it’s played within the pandemic”, which has opened their eyes to the chances it offers. But despite this rising interest, says Aude Barral, co-founder of developer recruitment platform CodinGame, young workers, albeit they need the requisite technical skills, are now facing “tough competition” for entry-level jobs.

“The marketplace for entry-level, operational tasks, like front-end web development, is getting saturated, and therefore the demand is far more for highly-skilled positions in areas, like AI and cloud management,” she says.

According to the company’s latest survey, the highest three skill sets currently of most interest to employers are DevOps, followed by back-end and full-stack development capabilities, all of which require high levels of technical expertise and knowledge .

To make things even harder , says Barral, many organisations became more reluctant to rent inexperienced personnel thanks to the challenges involved in mentoring and managing them remotely.

“It are often hard supervising young employees remotely as they often need more support, and communication is extremely different during a remote working scenario,” she says. “Which is why, even in tech, younger candidates can have a true problem competing with those with more experience.”

The tech industry offers quite just technical jobs


On the plus side though, the tech industry consists of far more than simply technical positions, points out Kathryn Baddeley, Cisco’s head of corporate social responsibility.

“Most children love twiddling with tech, but they don’t necessarily see it as a career and they’re not always conscious of the wide selection of options available,” she says. “It’s not almost coding – there are roles in sales, marketing, data science and a numbeof other areas too.”

As a result, the corporate – which unlike many of its peers continued offering its apprenticeship scheme last year and, in fact, doubled the intake to 60 people – runs employment rotation scheme to both expose participants to as many options as possible and encourage networking. The programme, which was first launched in 2011, now takes the shape of a degree apprenticeship and this year consisted of the “most diverse” group ever – 47% of participants were female, 42% members of ethnic minorities and 35% from disadvantaged communities.

But although the organisation had no doubts about continuing to supply the scheme during the pandemic, Baddeley acknowledges it had been necessary to tweak the way things were wiped out order to support apprentices working remotely.

“People who started working six months ago haven’t been into the office, so it’s harder for them to make networks and feel involved,” she says. “So we’ve put tons of effort into giving them the chance to satisfy people and have exposure to managers – the rotations help here as working with new colleagues automatically builds a network.”

The apprentices also are encouraged to figure with others within the ir own year group on charity fundraising activities and have had variety of meetings with key figures in the business, including the chief executive.

Taking a multi-pronged approach
Bev White, chief executive of recruitment consultancy Harvey Nash, believes that over subsequent three years approximately , apprenticeships will become an increasingly important way for the tech sector to maneuver beyond its current “undoubted over-reliance on graduates”.

As the economy begins to recover , she also hopes to ascertain more small, local firms resume hiring children to assist with tech support, thereby giving them work experience and “a foot within the door”, in many instances supported by the government’s £2 billion KickStart job placement scheme for children on Universal Credit.

Generation UK’s Houlihan likewise believes that a multi-pronged approach to skills development are going to be vital to really plug the UK’s tech skills gap. In highly technical fields, like cybersecurity and AI, for instance , he agrees that graduate education is crucial.

Computer science apprenticeships sit within the middle to supply learners with structured, ongoing training and paid work experience, in his view, while programmes like those offered by his organisation help make children “job-ready” in key areas, like cloud management, data science and software engineering.

“Training provision for children is constant to be dialled up – universities will remain a big a part of the system and, while apprenticeships are under-utilised within the tech sector thus far , they’re going to become more critical,” says Houlihan.

“But boot camps, whether they’re delivered by the private sector or social enterprises like us, will become increasingly important too, with each strata having its own role to play.”

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