Top 10 IT careers and skills stories of 2019

Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 IT careers and skills stories of 2019

Digital skills are becoming increasingly important for day-to-day living, as well as for navigating the world of work.

With digital and technology becoming a part of every company, it is important that all citizens in the UK have at least a basic level of digital competence.

In 2019, the government was heavily involved in trying to ensure the UK has the technology talent it needs as Brexit approaches.

Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 IT careers and skills stories of 2019.

1. Parents claim soft skills are needed for future of work

While there is an emphasis on a lack of technology talent across the UK, firms are also looking for individuals with the soft skills needed to work in the current day and age.

Industry body TechUK found parents are increasingly aware of the mix of skills needed by young people as they prepare to be part of the working world.

About 65% of parents with children between the ages of five and 17 felt there should be a greater focus on soft skills at primary and secondary school.

Parents were also concerned about the technical skills the world of work will bring, with 73% saying the current curriculum doesn’t equip children with the skills they need for a digital workplace.

2. Apprenticeships have to change to be successful, says expert panel

There are many routes into the technology sector, and with some firms focused on the newly introduced apprenticeship levy, apprenticeships have been an increasing topic of conversation over the last year.

But experts believe that while apprenticeships are a popular alternative to universities, more needs to be done to ensure they are fit for purpose when it comes to filling the technology skills gap.

A panel of experts at a Harvey Nash Future Skills Programme event said there is a long way to go before apprenticeships match both the needs of the firms offering them and the young people doing them.

3. Education minister calls for industry and educator partnerships

Technology could be used to reduce the number of hours teachers spend on particular tasks, and help with the delivery of education, according to then education secretary, Damian Hinds, who called for the tech industry to work with schools to use technology to improve education.

At the 2019 BETT technology education show in London, Hinds encouraged industry and educators to collaborate to implement technologies such as artificial intelligence to reduce the amount of work teachers have to do.

Later in the year, the government confirmed a £10m education technology strategy to try to deliver some of these suggestions.

4. London attracted more tech talent than rest of Europe in 2018

Despite concerns that Brexit would drive away technology talent from other parts of the world, London attracted more tech talent in 2018 than the rest of Europe.

Research by London & Partners found London was the most popular city for tech talent in 2018, with skilled workers choosing it as a work destination over other European cities.

While the figures from LinkedIn and Stack Overflow also took into account talent from outside of the EU, who may not necessarily be deterred by Brexit, data from LinkedIn found London was the top city chosen by tech migrants in 2018 and 2017 for both European and non-EU migrants.

5. Government announces changes to immigration rules

Many technology firms are concerned they will not get access to the talent they need once the UK leaves the EU, especially as a large number of skilled workers were denied visas in 2018 because of visa caps.

To address concerns about skilled workers, the government confirmed new rules surrounding visas to ensure more skilled workers should be able to enter the UK.

One of the two new proposed visa routes will be the startup visa route for people who are setting up a business for the first time in the UK, and the other will be the innovator visa route for those with funds to invest in a business.

6. Time spent teaching computing subjects drops 36% over past six years

The new computing curriculum was launched in 2014 to try to ensure children were being taught the skills they would need later on as the world becomes increasingly digital.

But a study by the University of Roehampton found the number of hours spent teaching computing and ICT subjects in secondary schools dropped by 36% between 2012 and 2017.

As ICT is phased out as a subject, these teaching hours are predicted to drop further, and Peter Kemp, senior lecturer in computing education at the University of Roehampton, said this dismissal of ICT as a subject might put some groups off computing-focused subjects over the next few years.

7. More than half of UK workforce lacks essential digital skills, says Lloyd’s

While many are concerned there are not enough people with the technology skills necessary to fill IT skills gaps, there is also a lack of digital knowhow more generally.

A benchmarking report from Lloyd’s found a number of UK adults do not have the digital skills needed for the modern workplace.

These include essential digital skills such as the ability to avoid potentially harmful links or popups, being able to share documents as email attachments, and knowing how to use online payments.

8. Girls now account for more than 20% of computing GCSE entries

The number of girls choosing to take computing GCSE increased for the second year in a row, with girls making up more than 20% of computing GCSE entries.

There was also an increase in total candidates choosing to take computing, as well as a rise in the number of students of both genders who received a 7/A grade this year.

9. Computing A-level rises in popularity, despite drop in overall A-level candidates

As well as an increase in students taking GCSE computing, there was also an increase in students choosing computing, biology, chemistry and physics at A-level.

But maths, as well as overall candidates choosing to take A-levels, saw a drop in participants compared with last year.

Girls achieved higher grades than boys in computing, and the number of candidates of both genders achieving an A* grade was up year on year.

10. Future.now launch: Biggest barrier for digital skills is motivation

At an event launching Future.now, a “coalition” project to increase digital skills in the UK, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Peter Estlin, said there is a lack of motivation standing in the way of people gaining new digital skills.

Future.Now was launched to address a lack of motivation or a lack of understanding about how digital can benefit individuals that is preventing people from learning the skills they need to perform certain tasks.

The coalition of partners, including companies, education providers, charities and the government, aims use digital skills training to improve the digital skills and digital inclusion of millions of people throughout the UK.

Read more on Diversity in IT

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