The Future of IT Services-Bridging the Skills Gap One Step at a Time
It is fair to say that the burgeoning IT skills gap is a huge concern for the majority of us in the IT industry. At Allied we are tackling this issue at our offices in the UK by focusing on offering invaluable IT apprentice programmes to students leaving school.
Waqaas started his one year apprenticeship with us a month ago and has already had the chance to explore the different departments and meet with thought leader Jos Creese, CIO of Hampshire County Council. He has just finished his A-levels and decided to gain experience from an apprenticeship rather than going to university. I asked about what helped him to make that decision:
'My father and brother are in the IT business. At school, right from year seven onwards, I got more and more interested in ICT. I really enjoyed learning about all the different aspects of the subject, especially Java. A career in IT support seemed like the perfect option for me because I enjoy helping people and working as part of a team.'
I also asked him what other options were available to him in this area. Despite the industry's efforts to focus more on apprentice schemes in order to bridge the skills gap, it didn't sound like Waqaas was spoilt for choice:
'For me it boiled down to either Allied and working at a school. I tried applying for apprenticeships at another couple of companies but they told me that I was too young and needed more experience. One other place that I went to had apprenticeships but did not have any roles available in IT afterwards; they just wanted me to do manual work for little pay. What I really wanted was to do my apprenticeship somewhere that could potentially lead to a job.'
Waqaas is certainly enjoying his time with us so far and his eyes lit up when he spoke about his colleagues at Allied:
'They really know what they're talking about when it comes to business. It's great to be able to observe and engage with what they’re doing here to gain experience for the future. I leapt at the chance to meet CIO Jos Creese last week, it was such a great opportunity; he was very helpful and agreed to add me on linkedin, as well as giving me some great tips about the industry.'
I asked Waqaas about what his friends had chosen to do when they left school:
'Most of my friends went to university to study business. Business is everyone's first choice. They want to work for someone big and then eventually start their own businesses. Only two or three of us did apprenticeships, I was the only one that did IT. Nobody came into our school to talk about IT, they did come and talk to us about degrees and careers in business. Luckily I had a really good connection with my ICT teacher.'
This lack of engagement at a school level seems to be a key problem. Waqaas and his friends have great ambition and drive but Waqaas seemed to be the only one engaging with the idea of working in IT; maybe because he already knew about the career through his father and brother. It seems that young men and women are not getting a broad enough view of career choices in the technology industry whilst in school. Working with/for big well-known companies seems to be a key aim. Through Allied Waqaas has been given the chance to work with Luxury Fashion Brand, an endeavour that he is very excited about and an opportunity that might stereotypically be associated with a career in business. We hope to engage further at school level to help solve this issue and are looking into speaking in schools about the opportunities available through a career in IT.
'I'm only nineteen at the moment so I just want to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible. I hope that in five years’ time I will be a lot more knowledgeable, a lot more confident and hopefully steadily climbing up the ladder to becoming a CIO.’
The ambition is definitely there, we just need to add a drop of our enthusiasm for our profession to the mix and hope that we can inspire and educate more dedicated young people like Waqaas.