Training and Development

IT Careers: Less Professional Standing Than Architecture?

IT currently has a bit of an image problem. Ask most parents what they want to see their kids doing for a living, and writing software probably won’t be one of them. Traditional careers like medicine and law that offer lucrative salaries and a structured career path are still looked upon as ideal careers for their talented offspring. In fact, one in ten parents claimed they would ‘actively discourage’ a career in IT.

This has the potential to be a huge millstone around the neck of the digital economy. As the years advance, the need for more skilled IT graduates will increase but we have already arrived at a point where only 12% of businesses believe that they have enough skilled people coming through the doors. The future seems bleak but it really needn’t be.

The generation now known as ‘the millennials’ is the most digitally engaged, even though they don’t necessarily think of themselves in that way. For young people today TV, is subscription based and on-demand; news comes though the device in their pocket – often before it hits mainstream media, their friends are easily contactable via social media and, for many of them - learning takes place on digital platforms. It stands to reason that many more ‘millennials’ will draw inspiration from the conveniences of their modern life and seek to take them to the next level. The potential is there for a vast workforce of digitally-engaged young people who want to work in dynamic and innovative environments.

However, what has failed to be grasped, is that this digital generation will not all be drawn to a university education. Equiniti’s Software Development team, based in Belfast, has partnered with several regional colleges to provide BTEC students with intern programmes offering a route to employment for young people who haven’t been to university. We have also joined up with the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Department for Employment and Learning to take on staff through the Youth Employment Scheme (YES) who are then provided with a structured training environment.

Through these programmes, we have brought 12 fantastic employees into the business on permanent contracts over the past two years, all in addition to those who have joined via graduate routes.

Government has realised the extent of the issue, and its potential to limit growth in this key sector is to be welcomed. The much publicised Year of Code and coding lessons for primary school children may in time, produce more skilled people for our industry and overcome the parental prejudices about digital careers that see us labelled as ‘geeks’ and ‘boring’. After all, once something is actually on the school curriculum it is seen as less of a risk.

The cultural shift required won’t happen overnight and until it does the onus will be on businesses to promote the merits of a career in IT. We rely on what software developers produce more than ever, so businesses must derive alternative ways to get skilled people through the door.


Charlie Tuxworth is Director of Software and Innovation at Equiniti ICS


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