There are a numerous ways for companies to get involved in the skills agenda to help transform the image of IT, and attract more people into the industry, according to the Westminster eForum.
In its ‘Keynote Seminar: Skills for the UK Digital Economy – delivering the IT professionals of the future’, speakers from industry and academia discussed the initiatives, such as increasing the number of internships, that could help to attract and keep IT workers in the sector.
One of the problems that was highlighted by Justin Cooke, chair of the British Interactive Media Association and CEO of digital agency Fortune Cookie, was the knowledge gap in students coming out of university about the day-to-day running of an organisation.
“The only way the teachers can stay in touch with changes is if industry gets involved,” he said.
“We need to embrace the culture of internship and bring them [students] into the business far earlier.”
Stephen Beswick, director of education at Microsoft, agreed. The IT giant has pledged to create 4,000 jobs in the UK, including apprenticeships, this year.
“Pathways to ICT have to be demand-led not just theoretically-led. [The education sector needs to ask] what does the industry need?” he said.
But little knowledge about the business was not the only problem. Kevin Streater, executive director of employer engagement in IT and telecoms at Open University, said the lack of clarity about IT career paths was also a hindrance.
“To attract people to IT, students need to see where the roles are across the whole industry,” said Streater.
The Open University recently launched an initiative which maps IT roles with its courses, which helps IT professionals who want to become CIOs choose which courses they need to take in order to reach their goal.
Streater also suggested that new talent could be found through holding competitions, like the Cyber Security Challenge.
“We need to attract people through competitions and then give them career paths that will see them through the industry and keep them there,” he said.