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Channel ambassadors take the message to the next generation

Non-profit company is formed to promote the benefits of a career in the IT channel to help fill the skills gap and increase inclusivity

The skills gap is an issue the channel wrestles with along with customers in the hunt for skilled staff, but often has to compete for talent with vendors and enterprise IT departments.

A move by a non-profit organisation, the Tech Channel Ambassadors (TCA), should make life slightly easier, with the outfit looking to help fill the estimated 100,000 IT job vacancies.

The role of TCA will be to raise awareness of the career opportunities available in the channel and the prospects for those keen to start or change a career.

With the UK channel contributing around £50bn to the UK economy and requiring around 100,000 people to plug the current skills gap, the TCA’s Community Interest Company is looking to promote activity in the channel and encourage more inclusivity.

The TCA is calling on vendors, distributors, value-added resellers (VARs), systems integrators (SIs) and managed service providers (MSPs) to join and make it part of their commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals that cover diversity and inclusion. 

Given the need to bring in a fresh generation, the TCA is encouraging younger staff members to become channel ambassadors and visit schools to outline what the channel can offer. The firm will provide the materials and the support to ensure those sessions hit the mark.

The Community Interest Company’s leadership committee includes a number of well-known channel names, such as Ian Kilpatrick, former executive vice-president of Nuvias; Crayon managing director Hayley Mooney; Distology CEO Hayley Roberts; Westcoast executive director Alex Tatham; Rubrik director of channels and alliances Lisa Roberts; Rebecca Monk, chief people officer at Softcat; and Wendy Shore from the TCA.

“We need more people in the IT industry, particularly women, and feedback is saying to get youngsters interested in the industry as early as possible – from primary school level,” said Kilpatrick, who came up with the concept of the TCA after experiencing frustrations with talent recruitment and retention.

“We have had a shortage of talent for decades, and there is a continual stress point with companies paying money to hire and retrain talent, followed by churn and then repeating the cycle. This impacts remuneration at all points in the business chain, which then negatively impacts growth and profits,” he added.

With the pressure to find talent an industry-wide phenomenon, Kilpatrick said a channel-wide response was required. “Everyone is struggling to get more staff. What we need is a channel-wide strategy that goes down to schools and up to government and NGO [non-governmental organisation] levels. We have to make the message heard that our industry is an area where you can do great things,” he said.

“We need a cooperative approach across the channel to address the systemic failure to attract enough talent into the industry, both tactically, and strategically,” he added. “As a multibillion-pound industry – including vendors, distributors, VARs, SIs and service providers – we have all the capabilities to address the awareness and inclusiveness issues to resolve this.”

Kilpatrick said it was important the ambassadors could go out and puncture some of the myths around working in the channel and choosing a career in the IT world.

“We have seen that students often self-exclude because they say they are not great at maths and science, but you don’t have to excel at those subjects to get into the channel. There are huge career prospects around sales, marketing, customer experience, logistics, and way more – the possibilities are endless. They just need to know this,” he said.

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