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Opinion: How can Bristol fill the tech skills gap?

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Written by: Admin | Posted 17 November 2017 9:03

Opinion: How can Bristol fill the tech skills gap?

Rav Bumbra, founder of Structur3dpeople, explains how the city needs to address the talent gap

With more jobs being created than can be filled, the UK is experiencing a skills gap that will require one million workers by 2020. As the UK carves out a new economic future in preparation to leave the EU, it is critical for businesses to ensure that employees have the right skills to compete globally, helping to foster growth and prosperity for the UK economy.

There are no short term fixes, however regions around the UK can plug the skills gap at local level by finding new ways of engaging with prospective talent and drive businesses to develop skills they need to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

Bristol has a significant tech cluster, but to remain competitive and continue to be a world-leading economy, businesses must have access to talent with the right skills that will drive growth in the region. We need to look at short, mid and long-term strategies to help address the skills gap and utilize all available talent.

Returners and career changers: There is a huge pool of people who want to change careers or are looking to return to work after a career break and this pool has largely remained untapped. Structuring a set of activities including development of skills would allow these people into the tech workforce.

Flexibility on skills: We need to be more flexible on skill sets and hire people who don’t necessarily have all the skills they need to fulfil their role. Identifying talent that is willing to develop skills further once hired, should not be overlooked.

Female talent pipeline: Only 17 per cent of the tech workforce is female and encouraging more women into the sector could significantly alleviate the current talent shortage. Collaborating with organisations that have specific access to the female talent pool will address the challenges that businesses face when trying to attract diversity into the workplace.

Widen the talent pool: We should target talent from a wider spectrum of disciplines. Graduates who have non-tech related degrees have the mind-set to work in the tech industry. Designing business models that allow for on-the-job training will also help to retain key talent.

Change policies: Businesses should monitor their recruitment processes closely and work efficiently with organisations. If your in-house recruitment team is having difficulties sourcing candidates, change policies so that you are able to bring in expertise in the field to help address your challenges and attract candidates from a wider talent pool that includes diverse candidates.

Invest in talent: Look at apprenticeship programmes; they add real value to a business. Apprentices who might not have the specific skills from the outset may have generic IT skills and a good understanding of what is going on in the industry.

Jobs of the future have not been created yet. But that doesn’t mean we should hold fire on talent that will be required at a later date. We need to start developing that pipeline by transforming education and developing the skills, knowledge and awareness of young people so they see a pathway into the wide variety of roles that will exist in the future. Businesses should start to invest in their future talent and collaborate with organisations to encourage boys and girls with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in schools and further education.

If we are serious about addressing the tech-skills gap then we have to make a commitment for real change and look at new ways to meet demands and challenges.

 

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