The IT sector needs to change its image and create more opportunities if it wants to recruit more young people. We’re taking practical steps to make it happen.
The IT industry is facing a significant shortage of skilled people. Recruiting talented workers is difficult, expensive and time-consuming for companies of all sizes. IT is an exciting and innovative sector with a rock-solid future, so why are we struggling to find new recruits?
A survey carried out for insurer Prudential found that most Scottish school leavers think apprenticeships are largely in “male-dominated sectors such as construction, manufacturing, agriculture and IT”.
The same survey found that more than a third of parents believe apprenticeships are more suitable for boys than girls. And 68 per cent of 16-18 year olds – that is, potential apprentices – believe most apprenticeships are in roles that are heavily gender-specific.
At the same time, the Prime Minister appeared on The One Show to say she believed there were clearly-defined “girl jobs and boy jobs”.
It’s easy to blame others for the myths about who chooses to work in IT, but the simple truth is that it’s up to the sector to challenge this outdated vision. It’s this ‘prevailing wisdom’ that the IT sector has to work hard to dispel.
We need to show people the IT sector we know: innovative, creative, and vital to the economy. On top of that, those of us who can influence it need to shape the industry to become more diverse, accessible and open.
Skills Development Scotland have already said they will do their best to dispel the idea that apprenticeships are ‘better-suited’ to any gender. CompanyNet, too, is actively working to change perceptions and widen access to the industry. We have made a commitment to take on more female apprentices, and we already have a workforce that is moving towards being diverse. We were even featured in a recent government report on tackling the gender gap.
Not only are we actively recruiting apprentices, but we have taken on the responsibility of becoming an SQA-accredited training centre, via our The Knowledge Business subsidiary, so we can start making a positive impact.
We’d be interested to hear from anyone else who wants to address this important issue for the sector.