Companies need to invest more in students, especially women in STEM

With almost 15,000 jobs being created in the UK tech sector, there are many career opportunities

Two years after the pandemic, the A-Level results are in, and over 28,000 students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who applied to university did not receive an offer on results day.

For those who will choose to enter the workforce directly from high school, businesses have a huge role to play in how they can accommodate this new talent. Higher education is not the only way to a successful career, and it is important that companies commit to on-the-job training to teach the job skills that are most in demand.

Dan Pell, GM and SVP EMEA, Tableau, said: “For example, according to our recent survey, CEOs are unanimous (83%) that their organisations are becoming more data-driven. But they are struggling to find new recruits willing and able to learn how to use data in their decision-making. There is a real opportunity for young graduates entering the workforce to fill this growing data skills gap.

“But it is vital that it is not just young graduates who need to improve their skills. For companies that want to reap the competitive benefits of a data-savvy workforce, providing training, development and mentoring opportunities at the entry-level is essential. And this can help prepare the company’s future for years to come.” 

More training 

In these times of talent shortages, companies need to be aware that employees who are proactively trained in data skills by their employer are more likely to stay with the company. According to a recent Forrester study, employees who are highly satisfied with their company’s data programs are ten times more likely to be highly satisfied with their organisation. In addition, they are nearly twice as likely to stay with the company for two to five years. 

The A-Level results also revealed that, despite the skills crisis, the overall percentage of students choosing STEM subjects had decreased slightly compared to 2021 (minus 0.3%). 

Diversity gap

While the technology industry continues to grow rapidly, a diversity gap remains. In terms of STEM subjects chosen by female students, their participation has declined more rapidly (0.7%, compared to 0.04% for males), with significant declines in ICT (14%), Mathematics (5%), Further Mathematics (6.1%) and Physics (2.7%). As usual, male students still significantly outnumber female students in mathematics, advanced mathematics and physics. 

There will be an increase of 15.8% of female students in computer science in 2022. However, the percentage of female students in computer science remains virtually unchanged this year (14.9% in 2022 compared to 14.6% in 2021).  

Despite this, female students continue to thrive in the subject, with more than half (56.2%) achieving an A or A*.

Agata Nowakowska, Skillsoft’s regional vice president for EMEA, added, “It is disappointing that this trend continues, with this year’s A-Level results showing that the percentage of girls in maths, advanced maths and physics has fallen this year.”

Invest in girls in STEM

Women comprise only 17% of the UK technology sector, indicating little growth over the past decade. There are many programmes to get girls interested in these fields to address this. 

Companies can help to complement these initiatives by highlighting female role models and organising technology-related events and work experience opportunities. 

With almost 15,000 technology jobs created in the UK this year alone, schools and businesses need to go further to eradicate outdated views that are still very much in the public consciousness. Although more than a quarter of female students say they have put off a career in technology because it is too male-dominated, schools need to challenge this perception by offering female students the opportunity to learn to code, build websites or use robotic toys. 

When technology is changing rapidly, and the skills crisis threatens future economic growth, investing in girls in STEM will allow organisations to open up a crucial talent pool.

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