Short-termism in IT recruitment means our next generation are shunned

Not only are we not encouraging enough young people into IT, but those who do want to work in the profession can’t find a job.

The dilemma is exemplified by the experiences of Mark Kearney and Jake Elwell, two IT apprentices taken on by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) last year. Now, due to spending cuts, two young IT enthusiasts will find themselves out of work at the end of this month because the DWP can’t offer them a job.

They have both been looking for jobs for months, and even with a year’s directly relevant apprenticeship behind them, they cannot find work, typically being told they don’t have the qualifications or enough experience.

Their situation is made doubly ironic after the warm welcome that many in the IT industry gave to the government’s announcement in the spending review of a 50% increase in funding for apprenticeships, aimed at creating 75,000 new apprentice roles a year across all professions by 2014.

If the government can’t even find jobs for its own IT apprentices, what are the prospects for others?

IT has always been a fast-moving career, but these days it has become too short termist in its recruitment and employment policies. Even at the top of the profession, the tenure of the average CIO is down to a few years. Few IT employers want to take a risk on training young people when they need rapid results from projects that demand immediate access to proven skills.

Just as young people embrace technology in their lives more than ever, the IT profession is in danger of stepping back from offering the opportunities for them to embrace technology as a career.

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Also we should be asking how the UK has been able to justify bringing in 1000's of foreign workers to meet the alleged IT skills shortage we supposedly had.
Thanks for the good comment Chris. I think the skills shortage was genuine, but you're right to say that a lot of that was filled by outsourcing to offshore firms when it could have been tackled by recruiting and training new entrants to the profession in the UK.

It comes back to this issue of short-termism - instead of bringing in young people and investing in them, employers turn to low-cost, low-risk, ready-made skills that they can later remove without all the employment restrictions that come with permanent staff.

IT employers have to start thinking and recruiting with a longer-term view or the number of people employed in UK IT will only shrink.

Because there is such a widespread lack of training and investing on in-house skills, those companies that do go to the trouble quite often end up losing the very same staff to their rivals a few years down the track. So the problem becomes reinforcing, "Why would I train anyone if they are just going to be poached?" sitting alongside "Why would I train anyone if I can let someone else do it and poach the good ones?".
If there is no demand for IT work, there are no jobs. If there are no jobs it makes no sense to train people for them. Study, internships, and training won't create demand & jobs out of thin air.

Steering young people into economically unviable careers is a terrible waste of money, time, effort, and, worst of all: Talent.