Tech choice

Research reveals a quarter of students have decided to pursue a tech career since the pandemic

Research from UK scaleup Talent Works has found almost a quarter (22 per cent) of 16-17 year olds have decided to pursue a career in tech since the pandemic. The research, conducted among 400 students and young professionals, coincides with the launch of the ScaleUp Week, which brings together UK scaleup leaders to explore the crucial issues facing growing businesses today. Talent Works’ survey also found that the majority of young tech professionals are encouraged by their academic establishment to join large organisations upon graduating (46 per cent). In fact, graduates are often encouraged to overlook small and scaling companies and 23 per cent are given no career advice at all. Despite favouring large organisations over fast-growth businesses, the UK startup and scaleup ecosystem had a record year in 2020, with UK tech startups valued at £422.55bn.

When it comes to starting their careers, only seven per cent of young professionals found it ‘very easy’ to find their first role, and women were more likely to find it hard (31 per cent) compared to men (21 per cent). A fifth of all respondents (21 per cent) also felt that tech courses at university don’t provide valuable post-degree business insights, emphasising the gap between the university experience and entering their first tech role.

When asked who encouraged them into technology, parents (27 per cent) and teachers/the education system before university (24 per cent) were the top choices, followed by professors/the university system (18 per cent) and role models (15 per cent). Women were more likely to be encouraged by teachers/education (54 per cent) than men (29 per cent), whereas men were more likely to have parents that took STEM subjects (44 per cent) than women (21 per cent).

However, when it came to young professionals ranking their tech education, women were less likely to rank their tech education as very good (17 per cent) compared to men (26 per cent). Over half of women (54 per cent) also rated the guidance they received as ‘poor – neutral’ compared to only 41 per cent of men.

Chair of ScaleUp Institute, Adam Hale, commented: “Preparing and equipping students across the UK to join the tech sector has never been more crucial. There is a huge disparity between the amount of women in tech compared to men, and it starts in schools to encourage and support their interest in tech. Take A-Levels, for example. Computing is the 19th most popular subject overall, but is the 28th most popular subject for women. By not encouraging women into STEM while in school and the education system, the tech sector is missing out of the next generation of brilliant tech minds.”

Paul Newnes, head of innovation at Talent Works, added: “The number of tech roles is increasing at an incredible rate, but the UK needs a new generation of tech talent to enter these roles. Encouraging young people into STEM begins at school and university, but we need to ensure that these students have the right guidance to help them start their careers. With so many exciting tech startups and scaleups in the UK, the next generation of tech talent should be encouraged to join organisations of all sizes, rather than limiting themselves to only the major players.”

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