Opinion: From finding skilled workers, to giving workers skills

General manager of Arch Graduates, Harry Gooding, explains why he went from recruitment to creating the perfect tech workers for the job

It’s no secret that currently the tech industry is suffering from a skills gap.

Computer Science graduates claim they cannot find work, and industry claims it cannot find skilled workers to fill its empty jobs.

Harry Gooding, general manager of Arch Graduates, has first hand experience in trying to find skilled candidates, having previously worked in client engagement at technology talent agency Mortimer Spinks.

Working in recruitment, Gooding found there was a huge demand for skilled employees in tech roles and firms, but finding employees to fill them proved a challenge.

Over the course of a couple of years, Gooding found the pool of people he was approaching went from those looking for a role and keen to work, to those already in work who are massively in demand because of the scarcity of others in the field with the appropriate skills.

The problem, Gooding decided, is that there are a limited number of people currently in the pool, and businesses are complaining that they can’t hire graduates because they are leaving universities without the skills needed to go into a job.

So we have a large number of unfilled jobs, an increasing number of IT grads who claim they can’t find work and a skills gap in the UK and Europe that will require 756,000 digitally skilled workers by 2020.

When looking into the student side of things, Gooding found students at a loss as to how to find the experience they needed to get a job in the sector.

Universities want students to be employable and students want a job and career after university, but are scared of not getting “the right one” and many students don’t have the money to take an internship when they are not sure it will amount to anything.

Some even avoid leaving university and look in to postgraduate education to avoid making a decision on what jobs to look for.

This leaves companies competing for a very small pool of tech grads with the right skills, and those already in organisations are now increasingly moving into contracting roles, starving tech companies of the funds they need to employ the right people.

The answer, as has been alluded to by many universities and industry bodies, is collaboration.

Without firms giving educational establishments guidelines about what is needed from potential candidates, it’s no surprise that graduates are leaving universities without the specifications needed to fill empty digital roles.

Arch Graduates works to prevent this divide between education and firms, upskilling graduates with the technical and business skills they need to go into tech roles.

After a twelve week introductory programme where  graduates are accredited with industry qualifications from establishments such as BCS, City & Guilds or Microsoft, they are placed with one of Arch Grad’s partner firms, who will spend 21 months providing mentorship and first-hand experience working in a digital environment.

These partner firms can then opt to hire from this talent pool once the two year scheme has finished, aware that these individuals have been trained using a combination of classroom study and industry experience, making them more likely to know what it needed to go straight into a tech role.

Upskilling those with soft skills and adapting to millennial workplace demands is the way forward for the fast-changing technology sector, and if firms are not willing to change their attitude to investing in people with the right potential, but a lack of technical skills then they will likely be left in the dust of those who will.