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Over 90% of CIOs say IT education does not match employers’ needs

CIOs think current IT recruitment needs are not being met by schools, colleges, universities and technical schools

IT education at all levels in the UK does not match the needs of many employers, according to research by recruitment firm Robert Half Technology UK.

The study found that 92% of CIOs think current IT recruitment needs are not being met by schools, colleges, universities and technical schools.

Phil Sheridan, senior managing director, Robert Half UK, South America and the Middle East, said the technology industry is changing so rapidly that internal training programmes are not enough to close the digital skills gap, which is currently costing the UK economy about £63bn a year.

But tech is also disrupting industries and job roles at such a rapid pace that it is difficult to keep teachers up to date with how to teach the skills the technology industry needs.

“Technology is changing so rapidly that it is little surprise that education providers are struggling to teach their students skills that will still be relevant when they reach the workplace,” said Sheridan.

Many complain that students are leaving science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) education without the skills needed to fill tech industry roles.

In the survey, 59% of CIOs said IT security is the area educators should focus on. There have been many high-profile cyber attacks in recent years, and organisations are collecting a growing amount of personal customer data, making security a top priority for firms.

Software development is also important to firms, with 18% of the CIOs surveyed saying schools should focus on teaching this subject, while 20% said the same about business intelligence.

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Digital transformation in various industries is being hindered by a lack of basic digital skills among employees, and 29% of the CIOs urged education providers to develop their teaching of the subject better.

The UK computing curriculum, implemented in 2014, was designed to teach children between the ages of five and 16 the concepts the tech industry was believed to need, but many feel it is not fit for purpose and puts too much emphasis on coding and high-tech skills, rather than other soft digital skills that will be needed for all jobs in the future.

Sheridan said: “Schools should also consider what they can do to offer work placements or ‘year in industry’ initiatives that will encourage prospective students and convince them that learning Stem subjects is the path towards an incredibly fulfilling and well-rewarding career.”

Teachers have asked for more help from the technology industry to encourage kids to pursue Stem subjects, saying it is difficult to teach everything that is involved in working in the technology sector.

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