ITWorks


December 21, 2016  2:07 PM

GUEST BLOG: Why employees are quitting over tech

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
Millennials, Technology

In this contributed blog post Keith Tilley, EVP at Sungard Availability Services explains why there is a “me or the IT” attitude amongst employees and what firms can do about it 

The “head down generation” – so named for the way they are permanently glued to smartphones and tablets – are the latest influx of employees to enter the workforce. They are digitally savvy and hugely demanding when it comes to technology.

Faced with new opportunities daily, they are not afraid to explore their career options. Seven in ten young people plan to leave their job in the next five years, leaving organisations under huge pressure to deliver the best possible working environments and employee tech in a bid to retain talent – from great benefits to cutting edge tech.

Get the tech or lose the talent

Recent research by Sungard Availability Services found that over a fifth of employees admitted to leaving a job because they didn’t feel they had access to the latest digital technology. With many roles increasingly relying on tech, businesses who fail to listen to employee demands and invest in the tools they need could soon find themselves rapidly losing headcount.

In the pressing war for talent, the simple answer lies in the need to invest in digital tools. However, in established enterprise organisations, existing legacy IT can cause problems when integrating new technology.  New applications may not be compatible with current systems, meaning a full IT overhaul would be needed. For most organisations, they simply do not have the resources or time to do so, meaning the long-term gains of nurturing a digital business are often put on the back-burner.

Mixed Employee Messages

A common mistake would be for businesses to simply throw money at the problem. Our study found a growing “digital disconnect” among employees. While most of the workforce recognises the importance of digital technologies, nearly a third claim it actually makes their job more stressful.

These findings highlight the importance of creating the right environment and culture, as well as providing education for employees to help them use these tools. More than 30% of workers found they did not receive enough training, whilst a further 23% said the training they had received was inadequate.

Organisations must consider a continuous investment in training to make sure employees are competent and happy with the tech they must work with day in, day out. With the IT skills gap getting bigger by the day, securing the future of your employees and business by investing in their skills has never been more integral.

Beyond this, assessing and developing an agile company culture is also a good way of ensuring a good return on the investment of digital tools. Early adopters of technology can help to increase a wider uptake if these people are harnessed to influence employees towards the cause. Once you begin to encourage employees to embrace changes to technology, future tech should be easier to incorporate; increasing adoption rates and impacting the business sooner rather than later.

Digital transformation isn’t a straight path to success. It requires various stages of investment, and can feel too time and capital consuming for the effort, especially when processes are ticking over well in a business. But to remain competitive, things can’t just tick over. They need to exceed and be innovative. If you don’t do it, your competitors will; and they’ll likely poach your employees in the process.

 

October 28, 2016  7:48 AM

GUEST BLOG: Why Apprenticeships offer a lifeline to the UK’s tech industry

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"tech skills", Apprentices, apprenticeships, Digital skills

This contributed post by David Allison, founder and managing director of GetMyFirstJob, discusses the potential for apprenticeships to fill the UK’s tech skills gap. 

Despite a challenging economic climate, the UK’s diverse digital industry has thrived over the past five years. According to a recent report by Tech City UK, digital industries contributed £87bn to the UK economy in 2015 and the sector now employs more than 1.46 million people- approximately 330,000 in London alone. Digital technological companies are thus proving pivotal to the UK economy.

As new technologies transition from invention to mainstream application, there is a constant need to reassess skills, training and recruitment in order to meet changing demands. With demand now outstripping supply in terms of available talent in the digital sector, the future of the technological industry now hangs in the balance.

But with uncertainty on how Brexit will impact upon foreign hiring from within the EU, the need to establish an effective pipeline of UK individuals with skills in, for instance, coding and data science, is even more profound.

According to research by Tech Partnership, 40% of British technological companies are struggling to source suitable talent to drive innovation. Analysis of ONS and Tech Partnership data for instance, reveals that the UK will require another 134,000 technological specialists each year and that if these requirements cannot be met, they are likely to cost the UK economy £63 billion a year.

Status Quo Not An Option

As recent research by the FDM group has highlighted, there is a mismatch between what is taught within university or school-based courses and what businesses within the technological sector actually require. As such, the training that young people receive is often devoid of commercial reality.

Tackling these skill shortages requires a nationwide, forward thinking, recruitment plan that covers all bases. This necessitates looking beyond the graduate pool and towards the creation and development of wider digital training programmes.

In terms of solutions, an increase in digital apprenticeships should be high on the agenda.

As a recent survey by GetMyFirstJob revealed apprentices add significant value to 90% of businesses that utilise them. Reasons for this include a positive contribution to long term growth and a rise in productivity.

Even more crucial is that by training apprentices whilst on the job, employers can tailor a candidate’s learning, skills and knowledge towards their businesses’ specific needs. This avoids any mismatch between theoretical knowledge and what skills companies actually require candidates to have.

Unfortunately, however, digital apprentices are not yet being utilised to their full advantage.

Despite the government’s plans to introduce the apprenticeship levy in 2017 and the push for more apprenticeships in the UK, only 3% of all UK apprenticeships are based within the digital sector. Moreover, many businesses are proving unwilling to engage with the new levy system out of fear that it risks damaging existing training schemes and forces a quantity over quality approach.

The Solution is out there

But employers must not let the levy disconcert them. If companies carefully select the right training provider, the levy shouldn’t cause any problems.  This is because the right provider will ensure that a candidate is recruited for ‘best fit’ rather than ticking certain boxes during the administrative process.  They will advise, guide and even challenge your requirements to ensure that they deliver the skills and knowledge that fit with the organisation’s values.

We assist over 260,000 candidates, 150 training providers and some of the UK’s best known employers in finding the talent they need to help their businesses grow at GetMyFirstJob. From this, we have witnessed first-hand the incredible apprentice-employer achievements that occur when training and recruitment is carried out effectively and in tandem. For this reason alone, the potential of apprenticeships in harnessing and developing a valuable digital workforce to sustain the UK’s future economy must not be underestimated.

 


July 26, 2016  1:38 PM

Opinion: From finding skilled workers, to giving workers skills

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"tech skills", graduates, IT recruitment, IT skills, Skills

General manager of Arch Graduates, Harry Gooding, explains why he went from recruitment to creating the perfect tech workers for the job

It’s no secret that currently the tech industry is suffering from a skills gap.

Computer Science graduates claim they cannot find work, and industry claims it cannot find skilled workers to fill its empty jobs.

Harry Gooding, general manager of Arch Graduates, has first hand experience in trying to find skilled candidates, having previously worked in client engagement at technology talent agency Mortimer Spinks.

Working in recruitment, Gooding found there was a huge demand for skilled employees in tech roles and firms, but finding employees to fill them proved a challenge.

Over the course of a couple of years, Gooding found the pool of people he was approaching went from those looking for a role and keen to work, to those already in work who are massively in demand because of the scarcity of others in the field with the appropriate skills.

The problem, Gooding decided, is that there are a limited number of people currently in the pool, and businesses are complaining that they can’t hire graduates because they are leaving universities without the skills needed to go into a job.

So we have a large number of unfilled jobs, an increasing number of IT grads who claim they can’t find work and a skills gap in the UK and Europe that will require 756,000 digitally skilled workers by 2020.

When looking into the student side of things, Gooding found students at a loss as to how to find the experience they needed to get a job in the sector.

Universities want students to be employable and students want a job and career after university, but are scared of not getting “the right one” and many students don’t have the money to take an internship when they are not sure it will amount to anything.

Some even avoid leaving university and look in to postgraduate education to avoid making a decision on what jobs to look for.

This leaves companies competing for a very small pool of tech grads with the right skills, and those already in organisations are now increasingly moving into contracting roles, starving tech companies of the funds they need to employ the right people.

The answer, as has been alluded to by many universities and industry bodies, is collaboration.

Without firms giving educational establishments guidelines about what is needed from potential candidates, it’s no surprise that graduates are leaving universities without the specifications needed to fill empty digital roles.

Arch Graduates works to prevent this divide between education and firms, upskilling graduates with the technical and business skills they need to go into tech roles.

After a twelve week introductory programme where  graduates are accredited with industry qualifications from establishments such as BCS, City & Guilds or Microsoft, they are placed with one of Arch Grad’s partner firms, who will spend 21 months providing mentorship and first-hand experience working in a digital environment.

These partner firms can then opt to hire from this talent pool once the two year scheme has finished, aware that these individuals have been trained using a combination of classroom study and industry experience, making them more likely to know what it needed to go straight into a tech role.

Upskilling those with soft skills and adapting to millennial workplace demands is the way forward for the fast-changing technology sector, and if firms are not willing to change their attitude to investing in people with the right potential, but a lack of technical skills then they will likely be left in the dust of those who will.

 

 


June 7, 2016  4:19 PM

A firm foundation for learning

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
Education, schools, students


In this contributed blog post, Scott Langshaw, IT manager at the East Manchester Academy explains the importance of enabling students through the use of technology. 

The use of tablets in schools has soared in recent years and the explosion in educational apps shows no sign of slowing down. Mobile technology is opening up so many new possibilities for teachers and students that it is nothing short of a revolution.

But if the wireless network is not capable of supporting a burgeoning number of tablets, a school could find itself plunging back into the dark ages.

Loose conS Langshaw East Manch Acadnections

Here at The East Manchester Academy, we wanted our students to benefit from mobile technology, but in common with so many schools, our wireless solution no longer had the capacity to support the great work that was happening in our classrooms.

If you’ve ever had to stand up in front of a bunch of 13-year-olds and explain that they can’t get hold of the material they need for their geography project because the wireless network is down, you will understand the problem.

Likewise, when a teacher tries to get 30 students to complete a quiz on their devices, but the wireless connection grinds to a halt and the quiz doesn’t update, then nobody learns anything.  Rather than helping, our old technology was preventing lessons from progressing smoothly.

Time for change

The time had come to upgrade our IT infrastructure. However, we are a school and though our dreams may be big, our IT budgets come only in small sizes. We needed solutions that would help us engage our kids, but they had to meet our budget.

As it turned out, the solution was more affordable than we had expected, and I have been particularly impressed by the capability of the wireless solution.  Our IT partner, Capita Managed IT Solutions, helped us to tailor a new solution exactly to our needs.

It’s been fascinating to see what a difference it makes to have a reliable wireless solution around the school. The big change is that our classrooms are always connected, whether students are using tablets, laptops or a combination of both.

Collaborative learning

I would go so far as to say that our Wi-Fi meets the expectations of the most impatient teenager. Students can log into the system instantly and everything they need for the school day is all in one place.

Working together is the best way to engage students and help them learn, and this is one area where mobile technology really comes into its own. Our students are accessing the content they need straight onto their tablets so they can share and edit their work together.

Teachers connect their tablets to the whiteboards in the classroom for a class discussion, and when it comes to marking work, teachers send instant feedback with a few taps of the screen.

The tablet revolution has taken off in our academy, and the students are benefitting from lessons which are engaging and enjoyable. It is reassuring to know that despite our limited budget, we have built the foundations for great teaching and learning both now and in the future.


February 10, 2016  8:43 AM

Improving customer focus with intelligent systems

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
Airline, Android, Apple, Cortana, Google, holiday, plane, Siri, Technology, travel
In this contriibuted article, Mindtree’s Suman Nambiar, europe head of travel and hospitality industry group, and Ranjith Kutty, senior director and head of solutions and new business / travel, transportation and hospitality vertical in North America, discuss how the future of technology will change the travel industry.
Think Iron Man, think Jarvis, the “Just A Rather Very Intelligent System”. When the first Iron Man film came out, Jarvis was science fiction, but by the time the third film was released, we were already familiar with Siri, Cortana and the snappily named Android voice commands – suddenly, a virtual personal assistant that you could talk to was in our pockets. 
From being a fun party trick at first, these assistants have been ingesting billions of queries and getting sharper and more useful every day – more and more of us use them as interfaces to our smartphones and tablets, to check the weather, to listen to text messages and reply whilst driving, to plan our schedules, to open apps and to remind us to feed the cat. 
As these assistants get better, so does their strength in handling complex natural language queries that cut across applications, which is a perfect fit for travel planning and management. This begs the obvious question – how will enterprises respond to the new digitally enabled consumer? How can the travel industry use intelligent systems to serve the customer better? 
The travel industry has unprecedented opportunities to sell better and serve better, but given the investments that technology companies like Google, Apple and IBM Watson Labs (to name just three of many) are making in the travel sector, the industry needs to respond quickly before the consumer gets used to dealing with a completely different class of intermediary who offers them a more intelligent, better targeted, more intuitive model of interaction. And it is not the technologies that stand in the way of the industry doing this today, as they all exist; as the travel industry shifts to being more customer focused and understanding what they can and cannot do with data, this future is already within reach. 
Consider someone driving along the M25 on her way to a meeting one morning in the near future – a grey January’s giving way to a grey February and she wants some sunshine. She asks her smartphone to look for a sunny break for a week in March, travelling on her preferred airline. 
Based on her preferences, the airline knows that she’s been to Santorini before and has given it excellent ratings for a sunny break in winter – the airline system interfaces with her phone to create a completely customised package, departing on a Friday afternoon from the nearest airport after the last meeting in her calendar, with a cab picking her up from the office (and a cab to take her to work that morning, since she will not be driving).  
A poolside room is chosen at one of the hotels where she has loyalty points; these points are then used for a free upgrade to a higher class of room. Also booked are a rental car from her preferred company, optional excursions to places she has not been yet (based on information she has shared on a variety of social media) and suggestions for hikes, as well as two reservations at restaurants, again based on information she has shared with the airline as well as on social media.
The offer sounds good to her, so she asks her virtual assistant for a quick scan of her current and credit card accounts and then chooses a card to pay with, still using voice commands. The airline then confirms the bookings and sends the itinerary to her online travel planner as well as her calendar. 
On the day of travel, before her last meeting, she gets a message from the airline, saying that they will send the cab 15 minutes earlier as the security lines are longer than usual for a Friday evening. She is checked in online and takes less than a minute to drop off her bag, which already has an electronic bag tag.
Since security now has biometric systems, it proceeds faster than usual and she gets a text message from the airline with a 20% voucher for a drink and a snack at two of the restaurants she prefers. 
By the time she lands in Frankfurt 20 minutes later than scheduled, she is relaxed because she has already seen a message with a revision to her itinerary to a slightly later interconnecting flight, because the airline has been able to predict a delay to the inbound flight ahead of time thanks to predictive analytics, and a confirmation that her preferred choice of rental car will still be held for her. 
We could go on, but this is an illustration of what is already possible today. 
Intelligent systems that have the ability to “learn” and adapt will help companies focus on the customer better. A combination of supervised and unsupervised learning enables these systems to be more context aware and this combined with predictive analytics applied to a wealth of data provides a very powerful platform for customer engagement. 
This enables enterprises to make the much needed shift from serving requests that customers make, to anticipating the request and acting on it ahead of time. An ecosystem of such enterprises that effectively engage intelligent systems across industries such as retail, banking and travel to name just a few, will be able to sell to the customer not just want they need, but also what they want. 


December 14, 2015  4:02 PM

Work-life balance: don’t overlook the role of technology

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
flexibility

Steve Gandy - MeetingZone new.JPGThis is a guest post by Steve Gandy, CEO at MeetingZone. 


Reading, and Bracknell, hotly followed by Oxford (near MeetingZone HQ) and Edinburgh, are officially the best cities to live and work in the UK – according to the Good Growth for Cities Index published by PwC and think tank Demos recently. It ranked UK cities against 10 criteria including employment, health, income and skills, housing affordability, commuting times and environmental factors. It follows similar research last year from PwC that ranked London (over Berlin, Stockholm, Paris and New York) as one of the best cities of “Opportunity”, in a report which examined intellectual capital and innovation; culture, technology readiness and how accessible a city is to the rest of the world. 

So what does this say? Well our growing interest in such surveys shows how we’re all – employees, HR and management – much more focused on well-being and work-life balance. And that’s a good thing. But for me, external factors like location are just part of the equation. The ‘best’ place to work shouldn’t just be about where your office is based, but also about the company you work for – so for example how does management operate and what culture does it creates for employees.

Today’s companies rightly scour over all sorts of indicators of work life balance including employees leaving, employee satisfaction surveys and hours worked. But what often gets forgotten by management is the impact of technology in creating that sense of well-being, which in turn can lead to content and productive employees.

Again, PwC provides insight here. It conducted extensive research earlier this year into attitudes amongst 400 SME’s ranging from 10 – 1000 employees about deploying Unified Communications (UC). UC brings together a huge range of services, from email to web conferencing and telecoms to sharing data. They found that management was focused, quite understandably on how UC technology would make the organisation successful and improve bottom-lines such as productivity, costs and efficiency savings. 

But what they’d overlooked was the more intangible, ‘softer’ benefits such as the ability to improve the workplace environment and to empower employees. If you look at the table below from PwC, it’s clear there’s disconnect between how they ‘expected’ to benefit from UC and the actual ‘realised’ benefits they received. Across the board the realised benefits exceeded expectations. But while you’d expect productivity, efficiency and even collaboration gains from UC deployments, the really interesting bit was how the deployments impacted employee perceptions of well-being. 

Benefits of UC.png

Source: PwC SME Survey, February 2015 (n=400)

Often management make assumptions that employees are armed with the right equipment or that the tools are “good enough” to work with, so are reluctant to rock the boat to invest in new technology. PwC saw that a UC deployment achieved a whopping 54% uplift in employee well-being. That clearly highlights that employee’s value being given technology that make their jobs and collaboration easier. 

For me the big worry was the marked difference between the 8% well-being benefit that management expected and the realised 54%. This shows how out-of-touch management really are with how employees feel about their jobs and their desire to perform to the best of their ability. 

It would seem our senior management need to be more cognisant of their employee’s need for ‘the right tools for the job’, and how it can affect creating the contented, happy and productive employees’ they crave. 


September 28, 2015  4:34 PM

Tech Britain is flourishing and here’s why

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
London, recruitment, salary, United Kingdom

This is a guest post by Geoff Smith, managing director of Experis Europe.

Technology is flourishing across Britain – not just in the Silicon roundabout. Tech City UK’s Tech Nation report recently found that a full three quarters of digital companies across the country are based outside of London. This is supported by our own Tech Cities Jobs Watch report where we noted a 10% drop in Q2 for IT roles advertised in London, compared to a 3% increase in other UK cities. 
These numbers represent a small part of the larger story of an expanding ecosystem of tech roles and innovation beyond the conventional hotspots. London’s position as a dominant hub for innovative digital businesses and tech-start-ups is unlikely to change any time soon – but a number of factors are creating a larger pull to establish clusters of tech expertise across the country. Below, we’ll look at a few of the forces that are encouraging the growth of digital Britain, and how it’s affecting the way businesses everywhere hire and operate. 
The number of IT roles outside of the Capital is increasing

One of the major forces in the digitalisation of Britain is the rapid rise in both the number and variety of roles available outside the Capital. In one sense, this is an inevitable by-product of the way technology has become part of all aspects of our lives. Nearly all businesses in the UK are dependent on technology to operate, meaning a demand for IT skills for operations, sales and security is pressing. 
Big Data provides an example where the number of roles advertised in Tech Cities outside of the Capital increased by 18% since the start of the year. Echoing this trend, Mobile Development and Cloud roles increased by six and 13% respectively. As businesses large and small adopt more digital practices, the subsequent demand for IT professionals with skills in key tech disciplines will continue to rise. 
Cost is another factor affecting the increase in the number of jobs available in alternative tech cities. As tech infrastructure across the country has improved, it has become even easier for businesses to operate and work with teams in remote locations. Cost-conscious businesses are taking note of the potential benefits of moving functions away from London where they can operate more affordably, while also appealing to IT professionals who are seeking a different quality of life than they can get in the Capital. 
Tech cities increasingly entice IT talent away from the Capital with competitive pay

With more and more organisations across the UK battling to attract tech professionals, advertised salaries have been shifting to reflect the competition. London’s average salary for permanent roles, covered by our report, has remained the highest in the UK. They rose in Q2 2015 to £53,107 – roughly 3% higher than the average in Q4 2014. 
However, cities outside the Capital have kept pace: Cambridge, one of the largest UK hubs of digital business and innovation, and Bristol another of the UK’s longstanding tech clusters, both saw salaries increase over the averages recorded at the end of 2014, by 3% and 2.5% respectively. At the halfway point, 2015 figures from Tech Cities Job Watch indicated upwards pressure on permanent salaries across the country. 
Contract roles often present an opportunity for companies to bring in talent for short term projects, or to fill a gap while a more permanent solution is offered. It is also a chance for companies outside of the Capital facing skills shortages to entice specialist expertise from further away. Big Data roles have consistently commanded the highest average day rates, and in Q2 2015 Brighton and Birmingham were offering average day rates of £675, 26% higher than the London average. 
As we continue to monitor the hiring trends that evolve and Britain proceeds with its digital evolution, we can expect to see organisations increasingly recognise the need for talent that has been developed in cities such as London and Manchester, and to continue to stump up the necessary cash to attract them.
The demand for skills is growing outside of London

Technology continues to evolve, and with it the demands and expectation of customers and staff. The skills and languages needed to provide services are also growing. 
I’ve discussed above how skills in Big Data (Apache Hadoop, Splice Machine, Tableau and SAP HANA) and Cloud development (Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and MS Office365) have become more sought after by firms outside of big cities.  We can only expect this to continue as more businesses, large and small, use IT to augment a wider section of their work.
The private sector organisations across the country also face competition for skills from the public sector – which is undergoing major digital transformations, subsequently requiring large numbers of skilled IT talent.
Other, more sinister forces are also having an effect on the demand for IT skills. In the wake of high profile cyber security breaches and attacks, businesses of all sizes are having to invest heavily in IT security. This is driving increased demand for SIEM (Systems Intrusion and Event Management) and IDAM (Identity Access Management) experts and biometrics specialists.
As long as technology marches forward at its current breakneck pace, so will the hiring trends shaping the evolution of digital Britain.


September 24, 2015  1:44 PM

Why lack of flexibility cost London businesses 1.5 million working hours during tube strikes

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
Business, Cloud Computing, Commuting, London, MeetingZone, tfl, Unified Communications

This guest post from Steve Gandy, CEO of MeetingZone, describes how businesses were hit by loss of working hours during the tube strikes due to lack of flexibility.  


Anyone of Londons 4 million commuters who struggled into work during the recent meltdown of the UK Underground system will understand only too well the chaos the tube strikes caused to travellers and other transport links. Our recent survey has revealed there’s also been a huge cost to London businesses too.

 

Those London strikes were part of an ongoing dispute with the Unions (which represent Tube employees), over plans to introduce 24-hour tube services at weekends. The launch of the 24-hour tube service has now been pushed back due to this, but not before the entire London Underground network came to a standstill on 8-9 July and 5-6 August 2015.

 

The survey of 1000 London commuters, estimated that businesses lost a total of over 1.5 million working hours during the London tube strikes from employees being late into work. Whats more, we calculated that Londons commuters wasted an extra three million hours just getting to and from the office. These are staggering figures especially when you consider that much of it is really unnecessary. But this was made even worse by the fact the research also showed that only 9% of bosses let employees work from home during this time. 72% of employees feel bosses are still failing to offer flexible working options during travel disruptions.

 

Sure, not everyone can work from home or remotely, but most office based jobs dont actually require people to sit at their desk. Technology like Unified Communications (UC) means that users can fire up a presentation, edit it with a colleague over IM or jump on a video chat instead – so it seems daft to ask employees to face travel hell.

 

As I’ve mentioned before, part of the problem is cultural. Many managers and business owners aren’t opening their eyes to how technology could change the way people work and drive efficiencies. They’re happy to think ‘if they cant see them working they cant be working, which is of course nonsense. You can just as easily sit at your desk and do nothing. Even where companies do have access to UC technology, you see a lot of them assume a couple of training sessions mean staff are confident enough to use it when an unplanned event occurs. They arent. Whats required is a culture of adoption driven by senior managers who embrace the technology and lead the way, not only offering continuous training but also through post roll-out support.

 

I feel sorry for all the commuters that had to set their alarms early.  Forget the trains running on time – UK business should run on time too. The lost hours during the recent London tube strikes should be the turning point for companies to start thinking about flexible working options to reduce the amount time commuters waste.

 


July 23, 2015  3:20 PM

Driving STEM into the Fast Lane for UK Primary Schools

kbateman Profile: kbateman
Uncategorized

This is a guest blog from Richard Pedley, software engineer, Delcam, part of Autodesk.

 

The CBI recently highlighted that the UK manufacturing industry is experiencing a crisis. In the UK we are lacking the vital skills to increase our productivity. In particular, the STEM skills gap has been an issue for many years and STEM teaching needs to be prioritised in the UK curriculum to encourage growth in this field.

One of the main issues we have found is a general lack of awareness surrounding the broad range of opportunities STEM skills can offer after education. Raising awareness about the jobs available from a young age will help children aspire to pursuing a career they might not have considered or heard of before.

There are a number of ways the manufacturing sector can get involved in helping to address the issue. At Delcam, we’re looking to address this by engaging with the Bloodhound and STEM Ambassador programmes. The programmes work to promote the engineering profession with a focus on the country’s young people by sending specially trained ambassadors to local schools. Delcam has been involved with the Bloodhound scheme for the past eighteen months and, at the start of July, three ambassadors visited Harborne Primary School to deliver a special school assembly for 270 students in Years 3 – 6, followed by an interactive Bloodhound activity session for Year 5 students.

The assembly focused on the history of engineering in the UK and also introduced speed as a scientific concept in a way that would be engaging and straightforward for children to understand. Speed, fast cars and specifically powering Bloodhound are topics that children can really get their teeth into. It can be easy to underestimate the student’s level of understanding, but as with every school we’ve visited, the children were keen to get involved and shout suggestions for powering the car.

After the assembly, the Year 5 students were lucky enough to have their own Bloodhound breakout session which involved three classes, totalling 90 students each building their very own version of the Bloodhound car. We explained to the students the principle of harnessing force to drive a car forward. The children were then able to put this into practice by building a Bloodhound-branded cardboard car from scratch with a straw and balloon jet engine. The children were then able to race the cars to see which would go the fastest and furthest. The pupils were eager to modify the cars even further which has inspired the teachers to create follow up activity sessions for the Year 5s. Teachers and pupils alike thoroughly enjoyed the day and there are already plans in motion for a return visit to Harborne Primary School next year.

Initiatives like the STEM Ambassador programme are only the beginning and, at Delcam, we’re also passionate about furthering the opportunities of older students with involvement in apprenticeships and graduate programmes. Specifically, we take in over 28 graduates and undergraduates a year to invest and build the UK talent pool. Schemes such as F1 in Schools are also hugely important in engaging the future workforce.

It is crucial that businesses and educators continue to work together to show students the wide range of STEM-careers that are available, both in manufacturing and in other areas, and ensure the tools and support are available to ignite the passion to create the STEM stars of the future. Getting fresh talent into the manufacturing sector will also support the future of manufacturing, ensuring we are able to incorporate new ways of doing things and tackle productivity issues with innovative solutions, rather than doing things the way we’ve always done them.


June 24, 2015  10:42 PM

Social media and the evolution of the job hunt

kbateman Profile: kbateman
Cabinet office, Facebook, social media, twitter, United Kingdom, YouTube
This is a guest blog by Andy Summer, managing director at Monster.co.uk
The way we search for jobs is constantly evolving and has historically been shaped by major technological developments. For example, in the nineteenth century the railways opened up new frontiers, driving candidates to out-of-town jobs. But recent history holds clues too; we don’t have to think back too far to a time when CVs were sent by post rather than email.
With 97 per cent of UK millennials on Facebook and 500 million tweets sent globally every day, it is clear that the rise of social media is the latest catalyst for the next big change in the job hunting process. We check our mobile phones on average every 20 minutes and social media is ever increasingly important in our day-to-day lives, helping us stay in touch with old friends, telling us about breaking news, and even advising on the best local restaurant to choose. It’s only natural that recruiters are beginning to tap into the social media phenomena and recognise the benefit it can bring in matching the right candidates to the right job.
Much like the typewriter brought us CVs, social media is having a big impact on the way we secure the best job opportunities. There is now a range of tools available to recruiters that utilise social media to help reach the most relevant candidates in a more personal way than has been previously possible. For example, at Monster we have recently introduced Social Job Ads, a technology that automatically targets relevant candidates via Twitter, distributing details of suitable jobs to candidates that are best matched to the role. Thanks to technology like this, the recruitment process is becoming much simpler for both recruiters and candidates.
The hunt for the best job and the most suitable candidate has evolved so that we can now take a job opportunity and send it via social media to targeted recipients. It’s effectively working the crowdsourcing model in reverse. Rather than waiting for an individual to make a positive decision to join a crowd, social media helps recruiters identify both active and passive individuals who could be part of that crowd. Of course the idea isn’t to entirely automate the selection process, but rather to introduce efficiencies for the recruiter and help ensure passive candidates are aware of job opportunities available to them. Potential employers can share relevant and interesting vacancies in real-time, allowing users to receive the notification on-the-go and in a bite-size chunk rather than being overloaded with detail.
By reaching out to a pool of passive candidates, technology of this kind allows recruiters to interact with those who otherwise may not consider a particular opportunity. This can be especially ground-breaking for sectors that are dominated by one particular type of candidate. For example, last year women accounted for less than a fifth of the UK’s IT workforce and yet there were over one million related jobs advertised. Making a wider range of suitable candidates aware of a job via social media may well form part of the solution to filling shortages such as these, avoiding talented individuals self-filtering or waiting for workers to decide to look for their next move.
As online and offline lives continue to merge, and more and more candidates are sourced via social networks, it’s crucial that businesses identify how innovative social media technology can be and the positive impact it can have on their recruiting strategy. Making sure we’re harnessing the tools at our fingertips will help ensure we’re connecting the right people with the right jobs, wherever they may be. 


Forgot Password

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an e-mail containing your password.

Your password has been sent to: