The Technical Skills Gap

In our latest blog post, Sian Manfield discusses her passion for sharing knowledge and helping fellow Graycians improve their tech skills.

In an evolving digital world, it’s becoming more of a necessity than a desire to obtain team members with technical skills. We see advances in machine sophistication in the news almost daily. There is an argument that machines can now do a lot of our required work as humans. However there is still a need for humans with a technical mindset and skillset to help maintain the pace of development.

The UK technical skills gap

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates are highly sought-after, as analytical and inquisitive natures are needed to succeed in digital and data roles. However, it’s reported that the UK lost £63bn last year, because of a shortage of technology skills.

The most sought-after technical skills for 2019? Software Development, Cyber security and data and BI management. All of which STEM graduates lend themselves well for. There is some debate on the volume of STEM graduates actually securing roles in STEM related fields post-graduation versus the UK skills gap. But it’s clear that STEM graduates can secure a future in change and transformation because of the TYPE of change and transformation happening right now.

As a woman working in STEM I do think there is much to do to encourage women to build STEM careers. At present, women make up just less than 15% of the entire STEM population. My own experience studying at university offered an even lower ratio of men to women. At my university there was approximately 10 men to every woman on the Computing course I studied.

Now this blog isn’t intended to address the issue of what can be done to encourage more women in to this field. However, the challenge of the UK technical skills gap, coupled with the lack of diversity in this area means I can see an opportunity for a wide range of people to increase skills and knowledge to perform in technical roles. This will in turn, provide different perspectives and a better balance in STEM – which can only be beneficial.

Improving technical skills at GRAYCE

So, I feel a responsibility to share some of my knowledge and learning wider; and I pose the question, how can businesses start to close the skills gap in their organisations?

One of the ways we complement the Development Programme and increase technical skills is through the CanCode initiative. In late 2018, I saw this opportunity and set up the CanCode team. We bring together current Graycians with skills in coding to develop a series of webinars introducing the wider community to programming languages. Can Code is aptly named after our Graycians’ can do attitude, which is crucial to succeed!

The webinars and materials are available to the entire GRAYCE community. Anybody who wants to try their hand and improve their technical skills receive the same equal opportunity to do so, at whichever point they choose in their careers. If for any reason their interest was deferred away from learning technical skills in their education prior to joining GRAYCE, then they can ignite it again now, because, true to our values – we succeed together!

In reality, CanCode is just the tip of the iceberg. Where GRAYCE is accepting Analysts from all degree disciplines, there is nothing to stop us from collaborating further and teaching each other more STEM-related skills, and skills from even further afield in other sectors.