We take a broad definition for tech careers – in this report tech careers are identified as a vocational pathway that might include working in the tech sector (in either a tech, or non tech role), or a tech role outside the tech sector.
This definition allows us to look at the tech economy in its broadest sense – in the same vein that the creative economy has come to be defined to encompass creative, and non-creative jobs 1
The nature of the tech sector means that it is ever evolving, and new forms of work, and industrial activity are constantly emerging. This has been a topic of keen discussion in the context of future employment, and skills opportunities – however, as far as we are aware, there has been little emphasis placed on what this means for young people – who may see the roles they are familiar with now transformed to the extent that they may not be the roles that experience future buoyant demand.
Mayden Academy was created in 2015 to solve the developer shortage that Mayden was experiencing. Like many tech companies across the UK, Mayden found that there was more developer positions than suitable candidates in the region. Rather than poach developers from other companies, we opted to grow our own...The potential is there, and so is the drive. We choose our potential academy students based on aptitude and attitude, and never find it hard to meet eager, intelligent people that want to be part of the industry. Our job is to train these individuals with industry relevant knowledge and skills, and to help them to hone their technical talent.
This section dives deeper into the gender difference in young people’s perceptions of tech careers. We look at the reasoning behind overwhelming bias towards young men choosing tech as a future career path compared to young women.
The research touches on a concerning trend, one that has received much attention in recent years. Given the significant body of evidence on the positive impacts to firm performance, and innovation of a diverse workforce, as evidenced by Mayer et al. (2017) 1 – there is a pressing need for the underrepresentation of women in tech to be addressed. But we should not stop there, industry efforts to ensure that the tech workforce is diverse in terms of gender of workers, (and also (dis)ability, ethnicity and age) must be targeted, practically engaged and active to ensure that tech companies are inclusive, and outwardly open to people of all backgrounds.
Young people aged 15-16 were disproportionately likely to want to work in Technology, whilst those people aged 19 and older are more likely to want to start their own business or work in Retail.
Careers that young people aged 15-16, 17-18 and 19+ want to work in the future
|Proportion of young people who want to work in tech (%)||16 – 16||17 – 18||19+|
|Creative and design||23%||23%||22%|
|Start my own business||22%||22%||31%|
|Sports and entertainment||16%||12%||12%|
We we look further into the age distribution of young people who suggested that they would like a tech career, we notice that 16 year olds are more likely to want to work in Technology than any other age group.
Age of young people who want to work in Technology (normalised by age distribution of the sample)
|Age||Proportion of young people (normalised)|
The Professions are a popular choice of career for all age groups. This perhaps signals the preference instilled through careers guidance and vocational advice at school. It is commonly cited that careers advisors tend to offer advice that reflects their own labour market experiences, and as such, this advice is often suggested to be a barrier to a broad range of career prospects being offered to young people.
It is particularly problematic when careers advice reinforces gender or ethnicity based stereotypes. Research from Beck et al. in 2006 shows that young people receive very little practical information and guidance about the consequences of pursuing particular occupational pathways, and are not engaged in any formal opportunities to debate gender and ethnic stereotyping when it comes to future jobs. Their research focuses on apprenticeships, something that we will come on to discuss. Its findings are particularly worrying for females who work in apprenticeships in sectors with lower completion rates and levels of pay, and which create less opportunity for progression (Beck et al. 2006) 2.
Reasons stated by young people (who want to work in Technology) for wanting to work in Technology in the future
|Proportion of young people who want to work in technology (%)||Proportion of young people who want to work in technology (%)|
|Fast moving sector||55|
|Well paying jobs||50|
|Big tech company profile||45|
|Good use of STEM skills||36|
|I know people in technology||18|
|Tech companies at a careers fair||18|
|Friends/ parents recommend||14|
Young people that wanted to work in Technology cited the fast moving and exciting nature of the tech sector, the interesting jobs it offers, good pay, and awareness of large tech companies such as Apple, Facebook and Google for stimulating their interest to work in tech.
Perceptions of career factors of young people who want to work in Technology
|Proportion of young people who want to work in technology (%)||Not at all important||Not very important||Fairly important||Very important|
|Working with a diverse range of people||6||28||42||24|
|Working with the latest technology||7||43||37||13|
Young people who wanted to work in Technology cited job security as the most important aspect of future work (93% Very important, and Fairly important) followed by Salary (92% Very important, and Fairly important), Career Progression – 88%, and Work-life balance 88%.
Young people feel strongly about work life balance, 51% suggested this career factor is Very important. As a tech employer, here are three practical steps that you could take to facilitate a company culture conducive to a fulfilling employee experience:
I’ve been a member of the Bitcoin community for over three years, totally confident in the potential it brings to our society. In the early days, I thoroughly learnt the ins and outs of blockchain technology and soon after, as a hobby, I dedicated my computers to supporting the network for one hundred pounds of profit each month...My experience last summer was a particularly inspiring one. A long summer holiday in California was ahead of me, and I was determined to somehow visit the Apple headquarters...Being surrounded by the talented people there and taking in the atmosphere was a very motivating and eye-opening experience...I developed my skills through online interaction; reading both amateur write-ups and official documentation, joining internet forums, watching video guides, or getting in touch with experts through social media.
Of those young people who do not want to work in Technology, young men tended to suggest that ‘other areas are more appealing’ at 50% of the sample, whilst young women were more likely than men to perceive that they ‘do not have the skills to work in Technology’, ‘lack knowledge about Technology’, or that it is ‘not for people like them’.
|Proportion of young men and women (%)||Male||Female|
|Other areas more appealing||48%||50%|
|I won’t have the skills||32%||45%|
|I don’t know anything about it||22%||38%|
|It’s not for people like me||21%||24%|
|Not many tech jobs around||15%||13%|
|Poor working conditions||14%||8%|
|Friends’/ parents’ negative opinion||6%||4%|
Young people aged over 19 years were more likely to perceive that they do not have the skills to work in technology, and that there are not many tech jobs around than other age groups.
Reasons stated for not wanting to work in technology by age
|Respondents (%)||15 – 17||17 – 18||19+|
|Other areas more appealing||48%||55%||42%|
|I won’t have the skills||35%||39%||44%|
|I don’t know anything about it||25%||33%||32%|
|It’s not for people like me||25%||21%||22%|
|Poor working conditions||10%||11%||11%|
|Not many tech jobs around||10%||12%||17%|
|Friends’/ parents’ negative opinion||4%||5%||5%|
The UK as a whole has seen a shift away from teaching Information Technology, and towards learning technical skills, like coding and digital making at a young age to endow young people with the skills that they will likely need in light of the increasing pervasiveness of digital tech through the economy.
Nesta’s 2015 report on Young Digital Making 1 tracks changes in the digital landscape with regards to young people and education. In 2010 computing became part of the curriculum in Scottish schools, and at the start of the academic year in 2014 computing become a new subject in the National Curriculum for England. This meant that aspects of programming and computer science were incorporated in lessons for all young people aged six to 14.
The fact that many of the changes were not experienced by older young people in our sample might go some way to explain the difference in response by age, where older groups are likely to perceive that they do not have the skills needed to work in Technology.
Extra curricular activities should therefore play a role in enabling young people aged 19+ to engage with some of the learning, technologies, and methods that younger people are being exposed to at school.
The National Software Academy is a partnership between Cardiff University, Welsh Government and industry leaders, arising from the findings of the Newport Business Development Task Force led by Simon Gibson, CEO of Wesley Clover...We aim to address the shortfall of qualified, industry-ready software engineers, by producing sought after graduates with industrial experience who will be recognised as leaders in their field. Our vision is to deliver industry-focused degrees in software engineering aimed at providing students with academic experience of relevant and leading-edge technologies delivered within an industrial framework, utilising industry-proven tools and techniques to facilitate transition into the job market.