The technology industry has reported a skills shortage for several years now and, according to pre-pandemic research, more than half of employers said candidates lacked the ‘right’ technical skills necessary for tech positions.
Of course, it’s not a clear cut situation; there are other factors at play, such as lengthy recruitment processes, competition for experienced candidates who receive multiple job offers, balancing the high salary expectations of these candidates, a mismatch between how jobs are advertised and searched for, and more.
Young people use tech intuitively
But let’s go back to the start, to young employees entering the workforce. Consumer technology has moved fast in the last 15 years and personal devices have become mainstream. Gone are the days when employers would need to check whether interviewees could put together a document in Word or create an Excel spreadsheet. Today’s new recruits have already had a lifetime of technology experience before they even get to work, with many of the most fortunate having had an array of up-to-date technologies at their fingertips at home (smartphones, tablets, smart speakers, smart TV, games consoles and so on) and their use becoming second nature.
Schools have fully supported this technology drive and teachers are using it creatively, not least by incorporating the use of digital tools into every subject rather than just teaching computing in isolation. The result is that students are super engaged, creative, resourceful and achieving things with technology that leave their parents’ generation not even knowing where to start.
Benefits for employers
Every business needs new ideas to thrive and savvy employers taking on young employees or apprentices quickly realise that, in the majority of cases, they not only already understand and can use technology intuitively, but they can also be a vital source of innovation where tech is concerned. Something that is second nature to a younger person may be something that employers have not even heard of and it may be that by discussing and working together they can shape and adapt ideas to create new ways of working that benefit everyone.
Of course, all companies need experienced ‘oven-ready’ employees that are experienced in their field – but investing in and training up newer/younger ones with the skills the business needs has immense benefits too. In return, younger employees and apprentices are keen to learn, can suggest new ways of doing things and allow businesses to consider different approaches, based on their experiences of the tech they have used extensively at home and at school.
Soft skills play their part too
Even in increasingly tech-based workplaces, technology use is not the answer to absolutely everything, however. We still need human skills and attributes such as team working, creative problem solving, face-to-face communication, empathy and the adaptability to work with one each other. These, combined with greater tech knowledge and digital skills will make for an increasingly productive tech-based workforce.
National Apprenticeship Week, 8-14 February 2021