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Closing the tech talent gap: Holly Woodward, Cybersecurity Technician, Kyndryl

Holly Woodward, Cybersecurity Technician, Kyndryl

ARTICLE SUMMARY

The UK currently needs 800,000 more technicians and apprentices to meet the demand in the economy. What can government, education, and companies do to help close this gap?

HOLLY WOODWARD, CYBERSECURITY TECHNICIAN, AT KYNDRY SHARES HER PRACTICAL ADVICE ON CLOSING THE TECH TALENT GAP.

In order to build a healthy pipeline of IT professionals, it’s important to consider how we bridge the skills gap and take a more proactive approach to address the current shortfall. As technology rapidly evolves, it’s important for industries, systems, and governing bodies to evolve their strategies to facilitate its potential from all angles – whether that’s through updating traditional educational curriculums to meet the demands of a digitalised world or continually upskilling professionals on the latest advances.

As it stands, organisations have been focused on either hiring new employees, freelancers or contractors to fill knowledge gaps quickly or training existing employees on new developments. While these are effective short-term fixes, they’re not sustainable in the long run. There needs to be a collective drive from the government, educational organisations, and businesses to inspire young people early on to understand this thriving industry and show them just how rewarding it can be.

WHEN IT COMES TO UPSKILLING THE YOUNG, WHILE PARENTS ARE BECOMING MORE SUPPORTIVE OF TECHNICAL EDUCATION ROUTES, MANY (40%) STILL DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT A TECHNICIAN IS. IS IT THE JOB OF A PARENT TO UNDERSTAND WHAT A TECHNICIAN IS? SHOULD SCHOOLS BE SHOWING YOUNG PEOPLE SUCH ROLES THROUGH VISITS FROM SPEAKERS, FOR EXAMPLE? 

Parents often have a huge influence on the career their child pursues. But the fast-paced nature of the technology landscape has meant that it’s difficult for them to stay informed about the breadth of roles available in the IT sector. Because of this, external support and resources to educate both parents and children are crucial to growing the IT workforce.

Inviting successful technology professionals to speak at schools can be a powerful way to provide meaningful, human insights into life in the industry. But there are a number of practical and interactive ways schools can nurture IT careers knowledge beyond role models and classroom learning. By offering digital apprenticeships, students can gain hands-on, workplace-based experience in the field and invaluable exposure to the possibilities they can unlock with technology.

HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO HELP PARENTS AND YOUNG PEOPLE LEARN MORE ABOUT TECHNICIAN AND IT CAREER OPTIONS AND ROUTES AVAILABLE? IT MOVES FAST, SO HOW DO WE KEEP PARENTS AND YOUNG PEOPLE UP TO SPEED?

With thousands of different tech roles across almost every industry and new ones emerging all the time, keeping parents and children aware of the exciting jobs on offer is incredibly important. It’s about tackling assumptions that IT roles are synonymous with 9-5 office-based work and showing young people that they could be involved in everything from developing life-saving vaccines to working behind the scenes at gigs and music festivals. There’s a strong chance that there’s an IT career that speaks to many young people’s passions, but it takes ongoing education to promote these opportunities.

This means investing in initiatives to make support more accessible for both young people and parents, including impartial career advice, workshops, and regularly updated resources.

For example, schools can partner with charitable foundations such as Gatsby, which are educating young people about the fulfilling careers available and the learning paths to reaching them.

THERE IS A SERIOUS KNOWLEDGE GAP IN UNDERSTANDING CAREERS IN IT. ADDRESSING THIS NOW IS INTEGRAL TO ENSURING ECONOMIC GROWTH. HOW CAN WE ADDRESS THIS? IS IT JUST A CASE OF SHOWCASING MORE ROLE MODELS OR SOMETHING ELSE THAT CAN ENCOURAGE YOUNG PEOPLE TO CONSIDER A CAREER IN IT? 

A strong technical education system that fosters real-world knowledge is key to closing the skills gap. But beyond channeling efforts into the initiatives I’ve already mentioned, we shouldn’t overlook the value of empowering talent already working in technology as well as investing in new, diverse talent.

There’s no one quick-fix solution – the issue demands that we take holistic measures to address skills shortages. For businesses, this includes continually building existing employees’ skills and getting them accredited in new technologies, as well promoting technician careers to young people. By nurturing teams within the business, it sows the seeds for a culture that’s people-focused – while also elevating the company’s reputation to future candidates.

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