Digital skills, skills gap, laptop

Bridging the digital skills gap: How those with non-technical degrees and experience can get into coding

Digital skills, skills gap, laptop

By Mike Rhodes, CEO of ConsultMyApp

Earlier this year, the UK tech industry was valued at £1 trillion, a significant milestone that only the US and China have previously reached.

In fact, following record levels of venture capital investment, the UK tech industry is now home to thirteen decacorns – businesses valued at $10 billion or more – putting the value of the UK market at more than double that of Germany and nearly five times greater than France and Sweden.

Yet, despite this staggering boom, the UK’s problematic tech talent shortage is threatening to stifle this impressive growth. With a recent report from Tech Nation finding that there were more than two million job vacancies in the tech sector last year – more than any other labour industry - the fight to rapidly upskill and attract more diverse talent with the right digital skills has never been more critical.

The UK’s digital skills gap is an issue that has been recognised and widely discussed for several years - maybe even decades. Yet, despite efforts to date, from both the government and private sector, the rift between supply and demand for specialist skills in the economy continues to grow.

Businesses of all sizes are now desperately scrambling to secure talent, but there are simply not enough people at present with the relevant skills to fill the overwhelming number of tech vacancies. Clearly a creative solution is needed to urgently fill these roles and upskill talent, and naturally, this starts with the younger generation - encouraging young people with natural aptitudes and early exposure to technology into the sector.

So, how do you encourage young people with non-technical skills or graduates with a degree in say, History or English, to enter a career in coding?

That is the big question - but this is where low-code and no-code trends step in, offering an accessible entry point for those who are less mathematically or algorithmically advanced or experienced - a factor putting many off from specialising their skill set for lucrative software roles.

The idea of software development can be intimidating to many, particularly those with more creative and less technical skill sets. However, these low code and no code platforms lower the entry barriers, allowing users to build software using a simple and user friendly toolkit approach as opposed to creating software from scratch. With platforms like these, those straight out of school and graduates with minimal digital skills can learn to code with a platform that automates and streamlines the more technical development process.

Learning to code is not easy to master and there is no quick fix, however, the low-code no-code approach enables greater inclusion for all keen to get into a career in software development without a highly skilled background or training. Instead of spending years studying programming languages and constantly needing to keep up to date with the latest frameworks, the whole software development process can be reduced to a series of easy steps including drag-and-drop editors and code generators.

And companies are benefiting too. In fact, low-code and no-code trends have been on the rise in recent years, particularly during the pandemic, to fill the need for rapid digital transformation amidst limited developer availability. We’re now witnessing companies turning more and more often to low-code and no-code solutions to rectify the imbalance between the ever-growing demand for software development and the shortage of skilled developers currently in the market.

This is because no-code and low-code solutions speed up the development process and allow those with very little experience to take advantage of the technology and quickly build applications, without having to be a programming expert.

In short, low-code and no-code approaches are mutually beneficial to corporations and young aspiring talent alike. School and university graduates are able to step into the world of software development without any experience, filling the ever-growing digital skills gap we are currently faced with. And, corporations can take an idea and use minimal resources to launch it very quickly and at little additional cost for training.

Still, there are of course many questions being asked as to whether these trends will replace the need for highly skilled Software Engineers altogether. The answer is no - there will always be a need for Software Engineers, algorithmic mathematicians and people who truly understand code. It’s also important to remember that low-code and no-code approaches don’t suit every industry. For example, these approaches to development may fit nicely with apps that have simpler functionality – for instance shopping apps - but apps that demand high-performance or contain sophisticated features with high interaction, such as games or stock trading apps, are always going to require a build-from-the-bottom approach to be successful.

However, lowering the entry barrier where super technical backgrounds are not required, can only be a good thing as ultimately, it will provide faster and more efficient deployment of applications and help to plug the enormous tech talent shortage.

In summary, with research from Gartner predicting that there will be four times as many low-code no-code developers working in large enterprises than professional developers by 2023, these trends will inevitably only become more prevalent as businesses think creatively about filling the talent gap. Low-code and no-code solutions will definitely be instrumental in helping to bridge the gap, opening up the field to aspiring talent without the training or background in coding, and the key to bolstering the UK’s recent growth in the tech sector.

About the author

Mike RhodesMike Rhodes is an award-winning consultancy manager and the founding director of ConsultMyApp (CMA), one of the world’s leading global app marketing companies. His ethos for the company is simple – to make every App they work with the best it can be.

Now employing over 30 expert consultants, ConsultMyApp has rapidly grown to prominence under Mike’s leadership, despite not being supported by any external funding models or VCs. ConsultMyApp is currently driving the digital evolution of some of the world’s top brands – including King.com, Pure Gym, O2 and Deliveroo – through end-to-end app marketing.


group of young multiethnic diverse people gesture hand high five, laughing and smiling together in brainstorm meeting at office, company culture

How to plug the UK’s digital skills gap

group of young multiethnic diverse people gesture hand high five, laughing and smiling together in brainstorm meeting at office, company culture

Article by Linda MacDonald, HR Director, Kubrick   

As over 80% of all jobs advertised in the UK now require digital skills, UK businesses are increasingly facing a skills shortage crisis. If left unresolved, estimates suggest the digital skills gap costs the UK economy as much as £63 billion a year in potential GDP.

As UK businesses seek to prepare and future-proof themselves for the digital-first age, leadership teams are rightly shifting their focus to ensuring workers are equipped with the necessary digital skills for tomorrow’s economy.

The key to achieving this is by attracting and retaining diverse talent, especially given how fierce the fight for recruits is in the extremely competitive, candidate-hot jobs markets. However, with just one in six UK workers possessing low or no digital skills, a reform across education, industry, and business is urgently needed to create this talent pipeline for UK businesses, prevent the digital skills gap from widening even further, and to support the UK’s post-pandemic recovery.

Following London Tech Week, and the UK Government’s announcement of a new Digital Strategy, our nationwide survey of 18–34-year-old found that much more is required to achieve the necessary digital upskilling. The research findings highlighted how young people in the UK are unlikely to secure highly sought-after roles such as software developers and engineers due to an outdated national curriculum and non-inclusive approaches in recruiting talent.  In fact, one in four adults say digital skills required for jobs in the technology sector were not taught when studying at school, college or university or work.

Alarmingly, the research also showed that 45% of younger workers have expressed an interest in pursuing a career in the technology sector – but lack an understanding of the skills and opportunities open to them. Tackling the issue early on by prioritising the teaching of the required skills in schools is therefore key to building a talent pool of digitally literate candidates.

Accelerating the supply of female digital talent

Despite recent progress made by the technology industry in increasing female representation, reportedly averaging now at 33% of the whole sector, much more needs to be done to accelerate the opportunities for women in technology.

Much like how a key solution to plugging the digital kills gap lies in the teaching of digital skills in schools, an important way to boost female representation in tech is to revaluate the education system. From an early age, boys are encouraged to undertake STEM-related subjects whilst women’s capabilities in these courses are underestimated. A cross-national study of assessment found that the majority of students taking STEM-related courses were boys and girls more often than not dropped out of these subjects.

These academic choices made by children from an early age are translating into their future choices in the job market. Data from 2020 showed that women made up 14% of the cloud computing workforce, 20% of engineering, 32% of data and AI workforces. Tackling the issue early on and encouraging girls to take STEM-related subject will boost the pipeline of female talent and create more of an inclusive culture.

Fostering more diverse workforces

Thinking about inclusivity in broader terms, creating the right environment in tech for diverse people can be hugely beneficial for companies. Improving DE&I is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a business-critical function in the increasingly digital world. Indeed, a landmark World Economic Forum report from 2020 finds how companies with diverse employees record a 20% higher rate of innovation and 19% higher innovation revenues.

Building a diverse workforce starts with the hiring process and businesses with inclusive recruitment models are best positioned. With over a third (37%) of 18–34-year-olds saying they would be more attracted to a career in technology if there were more diverse role models to mirror, the opportunity is clear for companies that implement diverse hiring models. Hiring diverse talent at all levels, from entry level to senior leadership, will create a pathway for others to follow and allow businesses to benefit from a broader talent pool of candidates.

One of the biggest challenges businesses face right now is attracting and retaining talent. Companies which are therefore willing to invest in candidates open to careers in the technology sector are best positioned to outcompete their peers.

However, over the longer term, the government needs to make digital skills a central part of the national curriculum and its Levelling Up agenda. Only root and branch reform will create the next generation of tech talent, setting UK business up for success in the digital-first world.

Digital literacy and capabilities are vital for achieving not only economic prosperity – but also in creating more inclusive work environments and tapping into the vast pools of diverse talent the UK has to offer.

Linda MacDonaldAbout the author

Linda joined Kubrick in November 2020, following HR leadership roles at Coca-Cola, Unilever, and RBS, to cultivate Kubrick’s development-driven, people-centric ethos. As HR Director, she focuses on creating opportunity for development across departments which aligns and assists in the business’ mission to build tomorrow’s workforce.


How businesses can help plug the tech industry’s skills gap

Front view of diverse business people looking at camera while working together at conference room in a modern office

As the technology industry continues to battle a mass skills shortage, Katie Killinger, Head of People at UK public transport app and website provider, Passenger shares her view on how businesses can inspire more people to expand their tech skill sets. 

The technology sector has suffered from recruitment challenges for many years, and unfortunately the pandemic has only intensified these issues, pushing many businesses to breaking point. 2021 saw ‘The Great Resignation’ sweep across the UK, with many workers planning job changes as the number of opportunities exceeded demand. According to research by Randstad, in November, 1 in 4 UK workers were planning a job change and those in the tech industry were among those who claimed to be most confident in finding new opportunities. No surprises there, as tech skills are indispensable for a huge spectrum of industries – but unfortunately there simply aren’t enough sufficiently skilled workers to meet talent demand.

So why are there so few skilled workers? I think lack of confidence is a key reason. When many people think of the tech industry, they see it being filled with complicated data and formulas which take a specific mindset and mentality to understand. What’s more, there’s still a lack of gender diversity in the sector – therefore, a lack of desire for more women to become skilled in the industry. In addition, shifting COVID restrictions have meant valuable tech community meetups and events have had to be put on hold, so opportunities to learn from others through information sharing are being missed.

To help solve these problems, first and foremost, tech businesses need to empower their employees to lead by example and show others what they can achieve to help build their confidence. Showcasing employees from a variety of backgrounds is important to ensure they resonate with a wider demographic, such as a successful female senior employee, or a worker who has progressed through the company without having had substantial prior tech experience. It’s also important to highlight those people to future generations at an early age by collaborating with schools and universities, giving them role models to aspire to. At Passenger, we have a dedicated Inclusion Guild. This is a working group which puts initiatives in place, such as strategies to improve new-starter onboarding and to better identify diversity gaps, to help us build an inclusive workforce – and in doing so, an inclusive product.

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In addition, keeping an open mind is key. Potential recruits may not have specific technical skills, but it doesn’t mean they can’t learn them with necessary training and mentoring from existing employees. In fact, it can almost serve in that company’s favour to hire someone who doesn’t hold specific tech skills for certain roles, such as in Operations or Customer Services. This means they can come into the business with a fresh perspective and gain an understanding of tech specifics, so they can better explain them to clients – removing all elements of technical jargon.

At Passenger, we’ve hired various employees who don’t come from a traditional tech background to help public transport operators better understand our technology solutions. We’re also expanding our recruitment efforts outside of Dorset by advertising fully remote roles, helping us access a larger pool of tech talent across the country. Our workforce has thrived as a result of our broader recruitment strategy, with two-fifths of our employee base progressing to senior level positions since Passenger launched in 2015 – including within our engineering, design and customer teams.

In addition, we’ve helped broaden operators’ workforce skill sets through our services. For instance, when the pandemic hit last year, we hosted training sessions with 85 operator staff members to upskill them on content management tasks, helping those impacted by staff sicknesses.

To further plug the skills gap, we need to work together as an industry to reinstate more tech meetups and conferences. Passenger has held developer conferences in the past, alongside sponsoring local tech meetups including PHPDorset, Mobile Dorset and hackbmth – all of which encourage businesses to share ideas and knowledge through talks and ideas.

These events don’t solely benefit start-ups – someone who’s worked in the tech industry for over 20 years can gain just as much by discussing their own experiences and hearing others from those with fresh insights and new perspectives. Although we’re in a competitive industry, the success of our businesses relies on the success of the industry – and we can help each other by sharing valuable information and educating one another.

About the author

Katie is Head of People at UK public transport technology company, Passenger. Passenger delivers scalable technology to public transport operators of all sizes, including mobile app ticketing, travel information apps, and websites.

With over 15 years of experience working in people and business management throughout the software industry, Katie joined Passenger in 2021, with a goal to strategically scale the business in terms of people and its operations and a critical time in the company’s growth.


The cybersecurity industry skills gap

By Nitzan Yaakov, Data Security Analyst at Aqua Security

While there is undeniably a technology skills shortage that we’re facing across the world, there are things we can be doing better as an industry to help close that gap and recruit and retain young talent.

These range from changes in job descriptions, recruitment efforts, and increasing diversity.

The challenges often begin at the university level. Many computer science students will spend their studies focused on coding languages and the software development lifecycle. While those working toward computer engineering degrees will probably focus on designing solutions for digital systems and building components. In the working world, these roles are typically less siloed. Another challenge is that emerging security tools, such as cloud native security, are difficult to teach because their dynamic nature makes it challenging for university curriculums to keep up.

Upon graduation, these students too often find job postings for roles that may require more advanced experience than they can bring. Or they may simply be unclear if a job is right for them based on a narrow job description. On top of that, junior technology positions are less common, and when they do exist, competition is fierce which makes the process even more challenging. The universities try to answer this gap by holding job fairs, inviting leading companies from the industry to suggest their open positions to the enthusiastic students. Companies should recognise the benefits of junior positions and create more opportunities for recent grads. Onboarding a young, energetic workforce can be invaluable to a company’s innovation and culture.

Improving gender representation within the sector is another hurdle to overcome. Cybersecurity is currently a very male dominated industry which can be off-putting for women looking to start their careers. Learning programmes, female led industry events, and better female representation at the c-suite level are steps toward bridging the gender gap and encouraging more young women to consider roles that they may otherwise think are too male dominated.

There are benefits to exploring a wider career path and finding the right role in cybersecurity. Indeed, if more students are encouraged to do this, and helped by the companies themselves, it would go some way towards solving the skills gap in the cybersecurity industry.

About the author

Nitzan YaakovNitzan Yaakov has over seven years of experience in cybersecurity as well as a BS in Information Systems and Cyber Security from The Academic College of Tel-Aviv.

Her career began in the Israel Defense Forces, where she first started as a QA Tester, cross checking software and web applications for issues, as well as evaluating IT/digital programmes for military operations. Since then, she has worked at Citadel Cyber Security, an consulting and managed services specialist as a cyber security analyst, and at Applied Materials as a data system analyst. Before finally joining Aqua, earlier this year.


women in tech, soft skills featured

How to de-risk career switching for women looking to take advantage of the technology skill gaps in the UK

women in tech, soft skills

Article by Fabio Forghieri, CEO and Founder, Boolean

It’s no secret we have a technology skills gap in the UK.

We are Europe’s biggest tech hub, with a large start-up ecosystems and over 100 tech unicorns, but demand for talent outstrips supply, with a recent Totaljobs survey reporting that 71% of technology employers expect to face at least a moderate skills shortage in the next 12 months.

A career as a software engineer is one that has great appeal. The demand for programming skills is on the rise as everything goes digital, and it’s a field that certainly offered more job security through the pandemic with the added benefit of flexible working options and competitive salaries.

Technology has traditionally been a male-dominated field, with a persistently low representation of women. Tech Nation’s recent survey found only 19% of people working in tech are women. On the flip-side, many employers are actively seeking to address this disproportionate representation by changing their hiring practices and engineering team environments to be more inclusive to women.

The challenge these employers face is that the traditional recruitment process relies on university graduates with computer science degrees. Not only are 80% of these graduates men, but also the three-year study period means current roles can’t be filled quickly. Any changes made today that positively impact course demographics won’t impact the hiring pool until at least 2024.

In a bid to resolve the current skills gap, employers are updating their new hire processes and considering candidates from other educational backgrounds, such as tech academies and bootcamps, creating a more accessible path for women wanting to pursue a career in software engineering.

Career switchers

This change in mindset from employers also provides a great opportunity for women looking to switch careers and reskill. University is rarely a realistic option due to the time and cost involved, whereas tech academies reduce the amount of time spent studying and are only a fraction of the price.

Those on a new career path require training that is more focused on career outcomes. Simply ‘learning to code’ isn’t enough.

There is increasing recognition that university degrees are not offering the necessary practical skills to prepare students for the life of a professional developer or keeping pace with changing industry demands.

Career switchers need a faster start. They require tailored training programmes that allow them to build and demonstrate practical, industry-ready skills to find a job.

Tech academies, like Boolean, provide a valuable service for students through hands-on training with experienced software engineering teachers with a heavy emphasis on learning by doing.

Before the pandemic, these ‘fast-track’ courses were perceived as a useful ‘first step’ towards a career in tech. However, the quality and relevance of this type of education is improving as demand for tech skills increases.

These courses now offer a very viable alternative to quickly transition into a new tech-focused career, and we’re seeing an influx of sign-ups from women wishing to move away from positions in marketing, retail and hospitality into more lucrative and flexible tech positions.

Choosing the right course

Not every tech academy is created equal. There are many options available and those serious about starting a career in tech need to find the appropriate course with the right curriculum and the right methods of teaching.

Career switchers should look for courses that teach a range of modern programming languages:

  • Javascript — the dominant language for writing full-stack web applications, and the most commonly used programming language on Stack Overflow’s developer survey for the 9th year running
  • js — allows students to create servers and APIs and build full-stack Javascript applications
  • React — currently the most widespread UI framework and highly sought after in the job market
  • Typescript — a technology growing in popularity that introduces students to statically-typed languages and the concept of types

It’s also important to choose a course that offers the right structure for you. For example, Boolean offers a six-month full-time course with live lessons and one-to-one support to accelerate the pace of learning.

Another consideration is location. Online learning offers students flexibility to fit education around their lives, yet it’s not as simple as running all your classes on Zoom. There needs to be a digital infrastructure that provides support to both students and teachers to create a positive and efficient learning environment.

Lastly, investigate whether a course provides careers support after graduation. Courses such as Boolean offer students six months of support after completing their course, to help graduates find their first job. If unsuccessful, graduates receive a full refund.

The pandemic has led to many women re-assessing their career and life choices, whether that be for opportunities to have a more fulfilling career, a greater sense of purpose in their job or flexibility for a work-life balance.

Few people have the luxury of retraining without some certainty of employment, but modern education methods are creating new, less risky options and, with closer links to industry, there has never been a better time to make that leap.


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AI Skills in the UK | Microsoft

Artificial intelligence. Human head outline with circuit board inside, AI

How UK businesses can address the skills gap, and capitalise on the AI opportunity

While digital transformation has been a defining feature of global business over the past decade, 2020 has ushered in seismic changes, most notably due to COVID-19 and the urgent shift to remote working. As Satya Nadella put it - the world experienced two years of digital transformation in the first two months of the global lockdown.

Uncertainty naturally breeds caution, but it also offers new opportunities for organisations to adapt faster, leaner, and smarter. Yet as UK organisations strengthen their digital foundations, how can they capitalise on these foundations and equip their workforce with the skills they need to succeed?

These are questions we consider in new research looking into the UK’s AI skills, which reveals that compared to the rest of the world, the UK suffers from lower AI maturity, adoption levels, and skills within the workforce.

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UK faces AI skills gap according to new research

Artificial intelligence. Human head outline with circuit board inside, AI

The UK faces an AI skills gap according to new research conducted by Microsoft.

The research, entitled AI Skills in the UK, could leave companies struggling to compete with rivals from across the world. The report also found that businesses in this country use less AI than firms overseas, and when they do it tends to be less advanced.

AI Skills in the UK looked at the UK-specific data from a global AI skills study led by Microsoft EMEA. The survey included the views of more than 12,000 people in 20 countries, including Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, Brazil, South Africa, the United States and Canada. It focused on AI capabilities and adoption levels around the world to understand the progress organisations are making, and the challenges they are facing in preparing their workforce for an AI-driven world.

Thirty-five per cent of UK business leaders believe there will be an AI skills gap in the next two years, while 28 per cent believe we’re already experiencing one (above the global average of 24 per cent).

The research also uncovered a concerning lack of AI re-skilling of the UK workforce to address this skills gap. Only 17 per cent of UK employees say they have been part of re-skilling efforts (far less than the global figure of 38 per cent). Additionally, only 32 per cent of UK employees feel their workplace is doing enough to prepare them for an AI-enabled future, compared to 68 per cent who do not.

Just over half of UK employees are using AI to work faster and smarter, compared to 69 per cent of employees globally.

Speaking about the findings, Simon Lambert, Chief Learning Officer for Microsoft UK, said, “The most successful organisations will be the ones that transform both technically and culturally, equipping their people with the skills and knowledge to become the best competitive asset they have."

"Human ingenuity is what will make the difference – AI technology alone will not be enough."

"At Microsoft, we’re on this journey just like everyone else, not least because the best learners make the best teachers."

"The larger point though, is not to be intimidated by the technology."

"Instead, get excited, develop your curiosity and let’s keep learning from one another.”

Agata Nowakowska, AVP EMEA at Skillsoft adds, "UK employers will have to address the growing digital skills gap within the workforce to ensure their business is able to fully leverage every digital transformation investment that’s made."

"With technologies like AI and cloud becoming as commonplace as word processing or email in the workplace, firms will need to ensure employees can use such tools and aren’t apprehensive about using them."

“The challenge for employers is to make sure that everyone, regardless of gender, age or location, shares in the spoils of new technology."
"Instituting lifelong learning for employees that ensures, reskilling will prove the answer to tectonic shifts in the job market."
"Giving workers the opportunity to learn new skills that will increase their ability to shift into new roles."

WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.


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Focusing on proactive change: our best chance to even the balance between employment opportunities and need

Article by Svenja de Vos, CTO, Leaseweb Global

desk-with-laptopEveryone agrees that technology will continue to exert a major influence over the future of society in general and employment in particular.

But drilling down into some key employment issues, it’s clear that we are still training more managers than technicians. Where are the specialists? Take a development such as Artificial Intelligence alone. We will soon have to deal with that in all parts of society, but there are relatively few people in our country who really understand it.

The need for more specialists is perhaps most urgent in the cybersecurity industry, where there is no shortage of evidence that the problem is both widespread and of significant impact. Looking at the global picture, it’s an industry that has become a victim of its own success, with growth so fast that research from Cybersecurity Ventures says it will see 3.5 million unfilled positions by 2021. And, according to the security certification organisation, (ISC)2, the shortage of those sought after cybersecurity professionals, “has never been more acute”. It’s perhaps no surprise, therefore, that  a Gartner survey revealed that 61% of organisations admitted that they are struggling to hire security professionals.

Part of the problem is the unavoidable need for specialists’ skills, with employers looking for candidates with just the right level of security experience, education, and abilities. Yet, how many people are out there on the jobs market with more than a few years of solid cybersecurity experience behind them? Not enough, is the simple answer.

This is not just an inconvenience for employers - the economic impact is very real. According to the consulting firm Korn Ferry, in its report ‘The Global Talent Crunch’, the US technology market as a whole can expect to lose out on $162.25 billion in revenue by 2030 due to skills shortages. As a result, “these talent deficits may imperil America’s status as the global tech center.”

The STEM of the problem

The reasons why we find ourselves in this situation are varied, and clearly, it’s not easy to predict the rapid rise of an industry like cybersecurity, but we can look to our education systems as a root cause behind the wider shortage of tech specialists.

STEM education, for instance, is a really important source of supply into the technology workforce. Yet, not only do we see a continual shortage of STEM expertise coming into the industry, but the gender imbalance is a particularly egregious issue and serves only to underline the need for systemic and cultural change.

UK government data, for example, shows that in 2019, one million women were working in STEM occupations - that’s a mere 24% of the core STEM workforce. However, looking at the tech sector specifically, the situation is worse, with women in tech only making up 16.4% of the that industry in 2019 - down from 17.4% in 2018. As the community interest company, WISE, put it in their report on the issues, “The proportion of tech roles filled by women has flatlined at 16% since 2009 – so further action is needed to encourage more women to get into a category of jobs which make up a quarter of the STEM workforce.”

Yet, addressing the problem presents an obvious win-win. According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, “Closing the gender gap in STEM would contribute to an increase in EU GDP per capita by 2.2 to 3.0% in 2050. In monetary terms, closing the STEM gap leads to an improvement in GDP by €610 - €820 billion in 2050.” In addition, their report says that STEM equality would have a major impact on employment levels, with total EU STEM roles rising by 850,000 to 1,200,000 by 2050.

In practical terms, the issues of skills shortages and long-term shortcomings in our education systems present serious problems for companies. In response, some train technicians themselves, but that costs a lot of money that cannot easily be earned back. For an average SME entrepreneur, for example, an investment of tens of thousands of pounds in new employees can’t easily be budgeted for.

As a result, businesses look beyond their borders, with one option being to outsource work to other countries or bring in foreign specialists. That in itself brings advantages of working in multicultural teams, and people from other cultures often view things from a different perspective and that can lead to important insights. The question is of course why other countries have the skills that are in such demand, and this could be partly due to the fact that those countries have a better tech environment. But, with UK immigration rules set to change, the situation is becoming more uncertain - at least in the short term.

It’s a challenging situation that will continue to cause problems for employers and will also mean that countless talented people miss opportunities for fulfilling careers. But, in a future where many important careers are based around specialist knowledge, an ongoing emphasis on proactive change offers the best prospect of balancing employment opportunities with need.

Svenja de VosAbout the author

Svenja de Vos, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Leaseweb Global, is responsible for the Product Management, Product Engineering, and System Administration departments. Together with her team, she is responsible for setting Leaseweb’s technical vision, scaling Leaseweb’s technology, pushing innovation, and further developing the company’s cloud hosting and cybersecurity services.

Prior to joining Leaseweb, Svenja was involved with the telecom industry for almost 20 years. For the last 14 years, she worked as CIO in Austria and the Netherlands at Tele2, and as Director of Transformation for the Tele2 group.


Closing the gender gap in cybersecurity could boost UK economy by £12.6 billion

cyber security

Increasing the number of women working in cybersecurity could boost the UK economy by £12.6 billion, according to a new report from Tessian, the human layer security company.

The report has also revealed that if the gender pay were to close, and women's salaries became equal to those of their male colleagues, the UK economy could benefit from a further £4.4 billion.

Tessian has highlighted the importance of encouraging more women into cybersecurity, but recognises the barriers that are currently stopping this from happening. After surveying female professionals working in cybersecurity in the UK and the US, Tessian reveals that a lack of gender balance was less of a barrier to entry in the UK, compared to the US:

  • 82% of female cybersecurity professionals in the US believe that cybersecurity has a gender bias problem versus 49% of those in the UK.
  • Just 12% of UK respondents say a lack of gender balance was a challenge at the start of their career versus 38% of those in the US.
  • US respondents were also three times as likely to believe that a more gender-balanced workforce would encourage more women to pursue roles in cybersecurity.

The research also sought to identify other factors which are discouraging women from joining the cybersecurity industry, and found that 42% of women think that a skills gap exists due to the fact that the industry isn't considered 'exciting' or 'cool'. A similar percentage of women (43%) also noted that there is a lack of awareness and knowledge surrounding cybersecurity which females had to face at the start of their career. Not only this, but just 53% believe that their organisation is doing enough to attract and retain women into cybersecurity roles.

Sabrina Castiglione, senior executive at Tessian said, “For organisations to successfully recruit more women into security roles, they need to understand what’s discouraging them from signing up beyond just gender bias. We need to make women in cybersecurity more visible. We need to tell their stories and raise awareness of their roles and experiences. And once through the door, managers need to clearly show women the opportunities available to them to progress and develop their careers.”

When asked what would encourage more women to consider a career in cybersecurity, over half (51%) said there needs to be more accurate representations of the industry in the media. Respondents ranked this as the number one way to encourage more women into the industry, followed by a gender-balanced workforce (45%), cybersecurity curriculum in universities (43%) and equal pay (28%).

In the report, Tessian spoke with Shamla Naidoo, former CISO at IBM, who said, "To many people, cybersecurity equates to - and is limited to - someone in a hoodie bent over a keyboard in a dark room. That’s not the case at all. If we don’t expand beyond that, we’ll lose out on even more people in the industry.”

In addition to the huge economic benefits, there are many other rewards for women working in cybersecurity. 93% of the women surveyed in the report stated that they either feel secure of very secure in their roles, with over half (56%) believing that cybersecurity is one of the most significant industries today due to cyber threats continuously becoming more advanced.

Castiglione added, “The future of cybersecurity needs diversity. 2019 was the worst year on record for data breaches, with 61% of organisations reporting a breach as a result of human error or malicious activity. With data breaches rising year on year, and with cyber threats continually evolving, we need different ideas and approaches to solving security problems if we are going to keep people and data safe.”


Dawn McGruer Keyboard, digital skills gap featured

Tackling the digital skills gap

Dawn McGruer Keyboard

Article provided by tech though-leader and author, Dawn McGruer

As a businesswoman with a background in programming, I’m very interested in technology as a whole but in particular, I have a passion around helping businesses and brands shine online.

Although we have seen massive growth in the use of digital marketing within business and budgets allocated towards online activities it is extremely disheartening to see that we face a worldwide digital skills gap.

The Office of National Statistics is reporting that we will have almost 750,000 jobs unfilled if we don’t focus on up-skilling and developing digital talent but this isn’t just focusing on the youth of today but also developing digital skills in current marketing roles.

There is a vast amount of expertise available in terms of business development and sales and marketing but we must not neglect our workforce who perhaps may feel slightly daunted and overwhelmed by the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of digital. Even now many marketing degrees contain little focus around digital marketing and this is indeed due to a lack of digital talent in lecturers not just in business.

Digital Managers and Directors who are not necessarily involved at a practitioner level still need a clear understanding of the latest trends, tips, techniques and tools available to be able to advise and lead teams at a strategic level.

If we consider that only about 20 per cent of tech jobs are held by women this just highlights the need for positive tech role models and inspiring leaders in digital so we can move towards a digitally empowered nation that can reap amazing results in an economic climate that perhaps feel a little uncertain right now.

The emergence of amazing qualifications focused towards real-world business marketing has been a welcome addition such as the CIM Digital Diploma in Professional Marketing and we see students excelling in the digital arena even before graduation because often they are confirming what has been self-taught which is a massive boost to confidence but also they are confident they have the latest knowledge and proven strategies to drive their businesses forward.

As much as there needs to be a focus on recruiting more women into the tech sector there also needs to be recognition around equality of pay. There is a gender pay gap across most sectors but we are seeing differences as much as £20,000 for the same role which is just astonishing in this day and age.

So as a whole there needs to be a shift in the way we retain and recruit new talent. As digital marketing is such an essential skill in business today an investment into schools to encompass digital in the syllabus and forge a clear career pathway into the world of digital. The average salary for a digital marketer is £38K and dramatically rises to £50K + with experience and being qualified.

I have recently designed a curriculum used in one of the UK’s biggest apprenticeship providers, Just IT which is geared towards not only upskilling apprentices but guaranteeing an actual paid job to progress their careers.

This is a fantastic tip forward and for those interested in tech or who have a more creative flair these types of business placed learning routes are exactly what is required to help bridge this epic digital skills gap we face.

I am also a big advocate of continuous professional development programmes so the fact that the world’s largest institute – The Chartered Institute of Marketing offers progression through encouraging on-going learning through their study centres.

For instance our Academy, Business Consort has trained and certified round 25,000 professional in digital and social media marketing but their journey doesn’t stop at graduation because they can work towards the highest accolade in marketing – chartered Marketer status through investing time in up-skilling every year. The CIM CPD programme is free for members and should be advocated by employers to ensure they not only have a happy skilled workforce that achieves great results but they having cutting-edge knowledge to adapt to the business environment and technology advancements.