IT companies need to work harder to attract talent says Workshare

Tech firms are responsible for attracting more talent to London’s IT sector, says Workshare CTO Barrie Hadfield

IT companies have a duty to attract more young talent to London’s technology sector, according to London First and Workshare.

Computer Weekly caught up with document management company Workshare during Skills London 2014, a jobs and careers event which took place last week at ExCeL London.

The event aimed at 15-24 year olds attracted over 30,000 visitors and 180 exhibitors, showcasing careers available in a range of industries including technology, energy and defence.

Barrie Hadfield, CTO of Workshare believes London’s technology firms have a responsibility to attract young talent to the IT sector.

London First has organised Skills London, with the support of the Mayor of London, since 2005.

Hadfield is a London First board member. He said: “We must get people to see London as the best city to work, instead of it being seen as an expensive place to work and live – or the city will stagnate.”

London First’s mission is to make London the “best city in the world in which to do business”. London First aims to influence national and local government policies and investment decisions to “support London’s global competitiveness”.

Self-fulfilling prophecy

However, he said getting IT companies to exhibit in the technology area of the show was difficult, as the exhibition does not involve selling products or services, but just the recruitment of new talent: “Getting people here was hard because you’re not here selling things so companies weren’t interested. You create your own self-fulfilling prophecy by not actively looking for the best people.”

Hadfield said companies should “work harder to attract more people instead of expecting talent to come to them”.

Ali Moinuddin, chief marketing officer of Workshare, said three of the company’s managers started as interns and made it to management in only two years: “We look at what the recruit’s drive is and fast-track them to where they want to go.”

Workshare runs a paid internship programme – which is how Holly Mills, event and communications manager at Workshare, entered the company two and a half years ago.

In 2013 she was responsible for looking after 18 international events last year and said: “I have been able to work on a lot of different projects that I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to elsewhere.”

Coding course for Stem awareness

In March 2014, Workshare, Raspberry Pi, BCS The Chartered Institute of IT, and Tower Hamlets Integrated Youth and Community Services (IYCS) joined forces to bring coding and an awareness of careers in IT to young people in East London. 

The scheme was created to address the IT skills shortage and to encourage more young people to take an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) subjects.

Employees from Workshare used Raspberry Pi machines to teach 40 young people lessons in coding, over the course of five weeks. The lessons were supported by youth workers from IYCS.

The lessons taught were developed by Workshare in conjunction with Andrew Robinson of Manchester University, and recruitment firm Resonate.

After five weeks of lessons students entered their work into a competition, where the top three students secured paid internships at Workshare during the summer of 2014. To enter the competition students had to develop their applications and present them to a panel of Workshare employees and other industry judges.

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