This rise in demand for tech-skilled employees is matched by steady growth in tech job opportunities across continental Europe and the USA.
So, with employer demand for tech talent at record levels, why are so many employers reporting difficulty in finding suitable candidates, especially with the pool of trained tech-talented people growing?
Codecool and Software Development Academy (SDA) recently merged to become a European digital skilling and sourcing powerhouse. With presence in eight countries, the new organisation is on target to train 15,000 – 20,000 people annually in IT skills and work with 400+ corporate partners to provide workforces trained in the most popular technology subjects, from coding, security to Internet of Things and more. The training, upskilling, and reskilling is available to students, companies, and governments through 17 digital pathways and a network of 1,600 mentors.
OF THE THOUSANDS OF INDIVIDUALS WHO COME THROUGH OUR TECH TRAINING COURSES EVERY YEAR, THE ONES THAT SUCCEED MOST ARE THOSE WHO ARE GOOD TEAM PLAYERS, WHO ULTIMATELY DRIVE THE ENGINE OF DELIVERY AND KEEP THE BUSINESSES RUNNING.
Having the right combination of technical skills to ensure they can solve problems and soft skills such as proactivity, good communication, collaboration and time management is crucial.
It is precisely these kinds of soft skills that many graduates of technology training courses seemingly lack, since most university courses focus on academia and research rather than practical application. While some university courses offer industrial placements to help students develop real-world skills, many fresh graduates are not job-ready.
Combining specialist technology training that offers the technical skills required, with a solid set of softer, collaborative skills that are passed on by mentors with multiple years of experience, enable those candidates to stand out from the academia-only crowd.
As well as looking at training courses that are better aligned with the requisite skills of businesses, we should also be looking at untapped demographics to plug the skills, particularly the soft skills gap. Perhaps women are the answer here.
WOMEN ARE AN UNTAPPED MARKET TO PLUG THE SKILLS GAP
Businesses are recognising the potential of women to fill the tech skills gap; some of whom, having reached their career ceiling, may now be considering career-switching to opportunities in tech, from quality assurance and software tester to programmer or data scientist. We’ve seen an uptake of women on our user experience and software testing courses, for example, where there is a 50:50 ratio of male:female. When we started, we may have had 5 – 7% females on our software developer courses and seven years later, we are looking at anywhere from 30 – 70% on these courses.
Arguably, some women, particularly those that have had childcare or caring responsibilities may have had more opportunities to develop certain sought-after soft skills including time management, compassion and communication.
The scope for women to train in any career they want or any role they are interested in is limitless. Tech roles lend themselves to remote and flexible work and are therefore attractive to those with additional commitments.
Some tech training courses allow for reskilling around current jobs, and other commitments, such as child or elder care, which is often left to females. In our case, we work with candidates to provide flexible training and tech companies and tailor our programmes to meet business requirements. Additionally, students can access mentoring, hard and soft skills and are guaranteed a job at the end.
SOFT SKILLS THAT GIVE WOMEN AN EDGE IN PLUGGING THE TECH SKILLS GAP
The number of women on tech courses is increasing and a 2020 study found that women make up 28.8% of the tech workforce, a steady increase from the past few years – 25.9% in 2018 and 26.2% in 2019.
Women with the right technical skills required to satisfy a role’s requirements should also be looking to develop or ensure they have soft skills to increase their chances of success in the tech job marketplace. Below are four essential soft skills everyone should strive to have and at the heart of them all is communication:
1. Time management
Ensuring productivity and planning tasks to meet deadlines is critical. By breaking down actions, it is easier to stay on task and ensure productivity. Structuring your day, prioritising work effectively, focusing on what is most important, understanding how much work can be delivered in a given timeframe and delegating when there is too much to do alone helps ensure that deadlines are met.
Networking is another vital skill that comprises building connections with others – either already on your team or anyone you want to work with in the future. Communicating effectively with peers, team members and managers is the bedrock on which effective collaboration stands. Good communication habits help build confidence in the team. While early communication of achievements and difficulties helps to ensure that everyone knows what is coming, there are no surprises and any stakeholder expectations are managed.
Regular feedback is critical in high-performing teams – learning to give and receive is key. It is important that feedback is about behaviours rather than the person to ensure any suggestions on best practice or criticisms are made in a constructive and timely manner. You are trying to be helpful, not hurtful.
Tech specialists need to be able to share the output of their work and there is no substitute for practice and experience with presentation skills. Women in tech should always ensure their training includes plenty of practice in presentation skills alongside their technical training.
Training has changed and students are learning how to learn again in an ever-changing technology environment and business world. Being outside of a traditional office environment means that soft skills are more important than ever and need to be woven into all technical training. Women may arguably have the edge with certain sought-after soft skills.
Looking at the underrepresentation of women to fill the tech skills gap is a viable solution that could suit women wishing to change careers to an industry where there is demand and one that offers flexibility, provided they pick suitable training. Conversely, employers benefit from a candidate pool that may, in some cases, have soft skills from their existing professions, their training provider or may have an increased propensity for requisite soft skills from balancing other aspects of their lives.