This is a guest blog by Peter Robbins, managing director, of Mercato Solutions
I was taken aback by recent news that announced a worryingly high number of inaccuracies in technology candidates’ CVs. The survey by First Advantage revealed that more than 37% of CVs submitted to technology companies have inconsistencies, a markedly higher number than the national average of 27%. Most alarmingly, just under a third of all these irregularities were found to be ‘major,’ with 45% of discrepancies found in the candidates’ education history.
This is particularly concerning given the current skills shortage within the IT sector. Recent figures indicate the industry is struggling to recruit the right talent and the problem is growing with the UK Council of Professors & Heads of Computing predicting a further 15% rise in IT jobs within the next ten years. Yet, 50% fewer graduates than a decade ago are seeking roles in our sector. The shortfall gap is increasing.
As the tech sector continues to lead growth in domestic and export markets, it is critical we get recruitment and development right to support innovation and growth. This demands the industry as a whole, above and beyond London, to buoy national interest in our dynamic and exciting sector. Several major growth hotspots exist in Birmingham and the North West, which overall will support the bigger industry mission to grow.
As a software business, we have found it challenging to recruit developers and the latest CV related news is perhaps an indication of things to come unless the industry takes a lead to drive engagement between education and the commercial world, improving the way we train people and make them ‘work ready’. But, it is very important we do it in the right manner.
Software development requires a great deal of skill and expertise, and by creating a long-term shared plan, we can build a pipeline of talented skilled professionals from the grass roots up.
Whilst it is early days for review, September’s launch of the new ‘code’ focussed IT syllabus in schools could be a sound first step, assuming it is taught as a problem solving and engineering subject by teachers with relevant skills. Hopefully it will teach students how to actually build software not just how to use it.
As it stands we’re going to have a gap as we wait for September’s Year 1 intake to flourish and then we have to question how their early skills are going to be nurtured going forwards.
Apprenticeships and skills development programmes can go a long way in helping to tackle the CV issue. We have seen considerable success in taking on young dynamic people at an early stage in their tech careers as apprentices. The investment we place in young people means that in the end, we aren’t just confident they have the skills – we know they do.
Train and retain
Allowing individuals to develop while in employment is valuable to both the employee and the employer. Investing time in young people that are willing to learn creates brand ambassadors who are trained in line with the ethos of the company and are familiar with certain processes and business-specific technology.
Nurturing this talent is so crucial and companies that retain apprentices as employees are likely to see the benefits – we certainly have. As a result, we are committed to bridging the gap between education and employment, upskilling a local workforce and providing local apprenticeships for school leavers and young people. Within the business, we have actually used our own technology to upskill new trainees – all via a software platform that enables us to teach our apprentices how to build business applications within just 60 days of training.
We need to work harder to make it clear to candidates that they needn’t skirt around qualifications and experience on their CV. There’s a problem if people are getting put off from telling the truth. Candidates should not feel they need to hide their passion for the industry, even if their skillsets do not reflect this. The tech industry needs to be shouting louder that it’s this passion we’re looking for and there are plenty of opportunities out there that can develop the skills to match!
If we want the British tech sector to grow we need to invest in our workforce – only then will we have a chance of bridging the skills gap and driving innovation.