The demands of the IT employment market are not being met by today’s education system, according to new research from recruitment specialist Robert Half Technology UK. With the UK skills gap costing the UK economy an estimated £63bn a year, the poll of CIOs reveals the most critical technological skills that UK technology leaders want education providers to focus on providing.
According to the research, more than nine in ten CIOs (92%) believe that the IT education provided by colleges, universities and technical schools doesn’t meet the demands of the employment market.
The poll found that the biggest area of concern among CIOs is IT security, with nearly six in ten (59%) saying that this is one of the critical areas that IT educators need to focus on. The next most urgent areas for enhancement are digitisation (23%), business intelligence (20%) and software/application development (18%).
The UK requires 104,000 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates each year, yet 40,000 jobs in this area are left vacant, according to figures from education campaigners, Your Life. What’s more, student engagement with STEM subjects is declining among older learners, with just 33% of boys and 19% of girls taking two or more STEM subjects at A-level.
“While businesses are urgently trying to reskill their employees through internal training and development programmes, the root cause of the current skills gap lies much deeper,” said Phil Sheridan, senior managing director, Robert Half UK, South America and the Middle East. “Recent graduates, particularly in STEM subjects, are already lacking vital skills that UK organisations desperately need.
“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” Sheridan continued. “They 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”.
This study was developed by Robert Half and conducted by an independent research firm. The study is based on research with more than 1,117 CIOs in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK.