UK tech companies are experiencing a widening skills gap, with over 70% of companies facing a shortage of digitally skilled employees.
The pandemic has only further magnified the disparity, with organisations needing employees with digital skills more than ever to cope with long-term remote working. Despite skyrocketing demand, tech companies are struggling to fill positions.
That’s a significant problem for the country as a whole: failing to source candidates with the digital skills needed could see the UK economy lose as much as £141.5bn of GDP growth in tech over the next decade.
So how can the tech industry close this gap?
The answer lies in utilising the untapped potential of our young people.
Introducing The Prince’s Trust
The impacts of COVID-19 have accelerated an ongoing youth unemployment crisis, with the effects disproportionately impacting those from minority groups — especially women. 78% of those who have lost their jobs since the crisis began are women, two-thirds of whom were aged 18-34.
As the UK’s leading youth charity, The Prince’s Trust is working with these vulnerable young people to provide them with opportunities many might not otherwise have.
Annie Whitton is a Corporate Partnerships Manager at The Prince’s Trust overlooking the partnership with ServiceNow. Her team has long had the ambition to close the tech skills gap by providing disadvantaged young people opportunities to learn the skills companies need — an ambition made even more urgent due to the pandemic.
Whitton says, “There has been an accelerated demand in the tech sector for digitally-skilled employees. On the other side of the equation, there is an untapped pool of unemployed young people who could fill those jobs; they just don’t have access to the right training schemes, or sometimes even the right tech to pursue those opportunities.”
Education is vital to gaining work, but limited resources — both within schools and university — leaves disadvantaged young people requiring extra support not to fall through the cracks.
While there are initiatives in the UK to address youth unemployment, they often don’t go far enough in providing hands-on experience in an applied setting, don’t have a clear path to employment at the end of training, or don’t provide the tools young people need to succeed — leaving many still left behind.
That’s why The Prince’s Trust turned to ServiceNow.
Creating opportunities with ServiceNow
ServiceNow is no stranger to apprenticeships, having run the NextGen programme for nearly three years. Through NextGen, we train candidates to fill digital skills shortages across our network of 800 customers and 40 partners across the UK.
But, we as a business felt there was more we could do to create a stronger support system for candidates – particularly when working with under-represented groups, such as young women from diverse backgrounds – and inspire the next generation of technologists.
With ServiceNow on board, a new pilot programme has come to fruition over the last year to see candidates training on the Now Platform®. It differentiates from other programmes, however, in that it takes place in an applied setting, giving trainees actual experience in using the Now Platform in a business setting.
Employees from ServiceNow will also share their own expertise and provide on-the-job training, giving participants the best possible employment opportunities.
As part of the partnership, The Prince’s Trust will support young people in tech poverty by providing them with laptops and WiFi support where possible. There are also opportunities to apply for grants through The Prince’s Trust Development Awards – giving young people access to essential items and enabling them to participate in a programme or get them started in a job.
The programme is currently accepting applications, with recruitment to end on 29th March and a Taster Day on 30th March. The pilot itself is set to launch on 12th April.
Driving innovation by changing lives
The Prince’s Trust and ServiceNow hope to not only get young people into jobs, but to bring much-needed diversity to the tech industry, too.
Evidence shows intersectionality in tech is a key driver of innovation, with diverse organisations bringing in 19% more revenue thanks to the various perspectives a diverse workforce brings.
Laurent Briant, our Director of Government Programmes for NextGen, is well aware of just how important it is. “Businesses with greater diversity are more agile and adaptable to a changing market — something that is very much needed in the tech industry post-pandemic. Which is why we’re currently in the process of recruiting twenty young women from underrepresented groups for the pilot programme.”
The team is scouring a broad range of different community networks to find candidates that fit the bill, from local schools and colleges, to care leader networks, youth clubs, and ex-offender groups.
What students are offered goes beyond gaining new skills and a career; but a chance to revolutionise their life while changing the diversity landscape in tech. They bring with them increased creativity and innovation, and can help a company be more inclusive to a broader range of customers by helping to eliminate bias in its products and services.
A brighter future with The Prince’s Trust and ServiceNow
The partnership between The Prince’s Trust and ServiceNow will be instrumental in giving vulnerable young people an exciting future — and it all starts with the twenty participants spearheading the initiative.
Annie Whitton was clear about the opportunity this represents:
“Our partnership with ServiceNow is a huge opportunity to gain sustainable employment. As ServiceNow has connections across all industries, our candidates can choose to work for a global enterprise or a specialist company — and build a better future for themselves.”
And for companies looking for new talent, Laurent Briant had the following to say:
“This programme provides you with a pool of highly-trained, digitally-skilled, diverse young people. They’ll bring a wealth of experience and knowledge with them that will only make your company more agile. If you provide the jobs, we’ll provide the talented, motivated young people you need.”