Education is important, but diversity is crucial!
Diversity is more than a tick-box exercise, it is a fundamental moral that fuels innovation, and attracts and attains talent. The more points of view, the better the decisions.
Diversity should be the norm and is also a key solution to tackling the digital skills gap according to Sigma, and is reinforced by Shaun Gomm, Commercial Director of the Digital User Experience Agency. Shaun said:
“Due to the much-discussed digital skills shortage, we’re all fighting for a limited pool of talent. Furthermore, there are times when public sector organisations are less attractive to young jobseekers with high expectations than, for example, the newest exciting AI start-up on the block.
Additionally, both the digital industries and the skills required to thrive within them move incredibly quickly. For example, skills in emerging fields, such as AI and service design, are becoming increasingly important."
By reaching young people whilst they are still in education they can be further encouraged to take-up STEM subjects by understanding the potential job opportunities these can expose them to in the future.
From an education perspective, a new survey from STEM Learning, a provider of STEM education and careers support in the UK, found that the STEM skills shortage is costing UK businesses £1.5 billion a year in recruitment, temporary staffing, inflated salaries and additional training.
An extended reach across all within education through STEM subjects will most certainly lend itself to creating a truly diverse workforce as well as tackling the digital skills gap.
Technology is changing rapidly causing educational providers to fall behind. Businesses and government must help by developing courses and qualifications relevant to today’s digital-first workplace, which is further reinforced by the Shadbolt review. They also need to develop mechanisms to provide all candidates with real-world experiences and encourage young people to undertake and progress with STEM subjects. Employers also need to provide employees with the opportunity to up-skill and develop.
The gender diversity imperative
Education is important, but diversity is crucial.
STEM skills can be broadened for the UK's digital workforce by making sure they truly reflect the diversity of the country’s society - this will only happen by developing interests and skills in technology across the entire talent pool, including a focus on increasing female representation in the UK tech and ICT sector to bring about greater diversity.
One hundred years on from when women gained the vote in Britain, this endemic gender imbalance in the UK is unacceptable, but several initiatives are underway, and with the following actions, the drive for change will become more apparent:
1. Develop the right interest and skills in technology from a young age
2. Build diversity into hiring and buying policies. For instance, in the UK, HP is a founder signatory to the Tech Talent Charter, they have committed to hiring a minimum of 50% female interns each year
3. Leadership must keep diversity goals elevated on scorecard performance
A better gender balance will help to bridge the country’s digital skills gaps, fuel business and economic growth, and secure Britain’s place as global leader in digital innovation.
A final word…
To unlock the potential of digital, we’ve got to educate and inspire the next generation of technologists, engineers, creatives and entrepreneurs a like for a rich and diverse workforce.
Across all levels, educators in schools, colleges, universities and industry need to embrace change to teach digital literacy and important technological skills, from basic programming to managing complex systems and equipment. These practical skills, along with creativity, 3D design and logical reasoning are crucial to the success and diversity of the digital future.
For further information, insights and recommendations on tackling the IT skills shortage within public sector download our latest white paper.
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