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.