BAE Systems: Education key to Tackling Technology Skills Gap

With businesses facing a global shortage of digital skills, BAE Systems research finds education is critical when it comes to tackling the tech skills gap

Businesses currently face a global shortage of digital skills, with research suggesting that only 33% of technology jobs worldwide are filled by the necessary skilled labour.

Now, research from BAE Systems’ Digital Intelligence business has revealed how a lack of Information Technology (IT) and tech education has been a barrier to a potential career in technology.

BAE Systems Digital Intelligence provides cyber, intelligence and security expertise to help protect nations, businesses and citizens. Its services, solutions and products span customers in law enforcement, national security, central government and government enterprises, critical national infrastructure, telecommunications, military and space.

Its study, Driving Digital Diversity, surveyed more than 2,000 people across the UK working inside and outside of tech and cybersecurity to explore barriers that could be putting people off from a career in the field.

“It’s clear that respondents’ formative years play a pivotal role in shaping their ideas about tech careers,” said Theresa Palmer, Global Head of DE&I at BAE Systems Digital Intelligence. “There’s a misconception that an IT-orientated degree is necessary to enter the industry, despite many tech roles not requiring a degree level qualification.

“This begins at school, where more action needs to be taken to promote careers in the field as attractive options that are open to everybody. The industry itself has a big part to play here, through better showcasing alternative routes into tech and placing a greater focus on transferable skill sets and people skills in job applications.”

Emphasis on DEI could reduce technology skills gap

Amid the ongoing skills gap, demand for technological skills is set to only increase. According to BAE Systems’ research, a stronger emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) could go some way to encouraging more people into tech careers and help to plug the current industry skills gap, which is estimated to cost the digital economy £63bn (US$78.5bn) annually.

Three-quarters (73%) of respondents said the IT industry could do more to encourage job applicants from different backgrounds – rising to 83% of respondents who work in tech and 90% of cyber security professionals polled.

Key areas which are putting students off pursuing jobs in tech
  • Assuming they need a tech or IT orientated degree (49%)
  • A lack of tech or IT education at primary and secondary school (42%)
  • Tech not being highlighted as an attractive or exciting career path at school (41%)
  • The financial cost of pursuing a tech or IT education (29%)
  • A lack of understanding about the opportunities available (29%)

“Businesses with a diverse and inclusive workforce perform better and in turn generate different ideas, approaches and skill sets,” add Theresa. “The benefits are manifold, ranging from improving morale, boosting problem solving abilities, filling skills gaps and improving financial results. Addressing the lack of significant change in DE&I is therefore a matter of urgency and should be approached like any other business issue.

“Only through working closely with the broader tech ecosystem, including government, the education sector and specialist social enterprises, such as InnovateHer, can we truly address perceived barriers.

“Collaboration is essential to developing more effective curricula, driving place-based initiatives and offering a greater breadth of opportunities to people at an early age.”

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