As the proportion of IT professionals under the age of 30 has fallen, the onus is now on employers to attract graduates into IT careers.
Graduates are also needed to fill crucial skills gaps in the UK IT workforce. E-skills found 110,000 new IT entrants will be required in the UK every year.
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Speaking at an IT recruitment roundtable, Tony Henderson, head of communications at industry body Intellect, said there is a mismatch between a technology-savvy generation and the large drop-out numbers at GCSE and A-level from IT-related courses. Intellect recently called on the government to scrap ICT lessons in schools.
Collette Lux, director of marketing at E-skills, said IT courses throughout schools and higher education are failing to keep pace with technological changes to train young people with the right skills for employment. "Hybrid skills [between technology and business] are missing," she said.
Entry-level job gap
But graduates are also struggling to secure entry-level jobs within the IT industry. "Low-rung jobs have been offshored. Working with the National Skills Academy, we are providing learning about how to manage projects, which is needed," added Lux.
Universities are starting to involve businesses more directly with structuring courses. E-Skills has partnered with various blue chip companies to advise universities. IBM has also recently rolled out qualification courses across Scottish higher education institutions.
The roundtable discussion formed part of an initiative titled "Unlocking Britain's Potential", which aims to present a 10-point plan to the government later this year.
Keiichi Nakata, reader in social informatics at the informatics research centre at the University of Reading's Henley Business School, said employers have a degree of responsibility to attract younger employees by keeping up-to-date with the latest technologies.
"Young people are surprised that common technology they use everyday is not being used within the companies [they work for]," said Nakata at the roundtable discussion.
Justin Parks, head of workspace online at IT services company Getronics, said organisations' rigid methods of working are causing young IT talent to "go elsewhere".
"Consumerisation is driving adoption of our technology. [...] Businesses need to offer the flexibility to attract the younger generation," he added.
Parks added that social media tools are crucial to recruiting younger employees. "Business is personal," he said.
Hiring a new generation of staff is important to respond to a new generation of customers. Gavin Hubbard, market strategist at LearnDirect, says retailers are changing the way they deal with customer feedback, translating text messaging slang on Twitter and using other social media tools.
Organiser of the roundtable discussion, Adecco Group, will present a 10-point plan to the government at the start of 2012 as part of its Unlocking Britain’s Potential initiative.