Tech Talent Redefined: The role of Career Switchers in solving the skills shortage
In September, we partnered with Softwire to host an event in Manchester which explored the potential of career switchers, and the significant role they can play in bridging the tech talent gap.
Tech talent landscape
The tech industry is expanding at a remarkable rate. However, despite this growth, the industry faces a significant challenge - a shortage of tech talent.
Even amid market uncertainties, tech job opportunities reached a 10-year high, creating unprecedented demand. But according Hays, nearly 95% of employers looking for tech talent have grappled with a skills shortage in the past year, leading to increased competition and concerns around attrition and retention.
Addressing the tech skills gap is crucial for the UK to unlock its digital and tech potential; failure to do so could cost the country as much as £141.5 billion in GDP growth over the next decade.
Looking beyond the traditional channels
Whilst traditional routes into tech, like university degrees, have value, they aren’t producing work-ready talent fast enough to meet the demand.
There are numerous programmes offering school- and university-leavers accessible, affordable ways into tech but things are very different for people wishing to switch to tech later in their careers.
This leaves an untapped pool of talent that is currently not being utilised to its full potential - further exacerbated by the industry’s ongoing diversity challenges. In the UK, only 28% of tech roles are currently held by women, while minority ethnic tech workers account for only 25%.
Traditional career routes are fading into the past, and “portfolio” careers are growing in popularity. Employers are starting to become more flexible and open to candidates with different academic backgrounds and who have different career trajectories.
But more employers need to engage people who face numerous barriers to entry, and ensure equal opportunity to access the required skills for a job in tech.
Advice for career switchers
At TechSwitch, our programme helps individuals transition from careers in other industries into tech, or to get back into tech after career breaks. Sasha Burgoyne, TechSwitch Co-founder, shared some of the key learnings from her own experience of supporting those making the leap into tech:
Know your worth
You bring many unique qualities to the table, don't get bogged down with what experience you don't have.
- Your past experiences, both professionally and in life, hold value. Having real-world experience of working in a professional environment is a strong asset.
- You are likely to have more clarity on what you do and don’t want from your career, and that can be very helpful for employers.
Run your own race
It's not a competition and comparisons can hinder your progress.
- Don't compare yourself to others; everyone's journey is different. Highlight your unique experiences and perspectives; they are your secret weapons.
- Industry jargon and technical knowledge aren't sole indicators of progress.
Work hard, rest hard
Give yourself grace and time to absorb new information.
- Quality over quantity: More hours don’t always equal better learning.
- Rest is crucial; avoid overloading your brain, especially after formal training hours. Taking breaks can often lead to breakthroughs; stepping away can enhance problem-solving.
Listen to praise
It’s easy to focus on the negatives, but it’s so important to hear all the good things.
- Alleviate imposter syndrome by keeping a record of your achievements and all the good stuff. Acknowledge and embrace positive feedback, even in the face of self-doubt.
- Believe in your abilities; others see your potential even when you don't.
Seek support and talk openly
Lean on trainers and mentors for guidance and support.
- Be open and honest about your feelings and struggles; it's a crucial step towards growth.
- Recognise your value early; self-awareness is key to overcoming self-doubt.
The evening was wrapped up with a fireside chat with TechSwitch alumnus, Careena Lau, whose journey from process engineering to software development exemplifies the spirit of career switching. Read about Careena’s journey into tech.
We’re thinking about our upcoming events for 2024, so if there’s a topic you’d like us to consider, or if you'd like to get involved, please drop us a message.