Developing the next generation of STEM talent

The UK’s technology industry is growing rapidly but the workforce isn’t developing at the same pace. The UK, home to thousands of start-ups, is currently facing a 40,000 shortfall in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates across the country and costing the UK economy an estimated £63 billion a year in lost additional GDP.

Students are reluctant to pursue studies in subjects related to STEM, often unaware of the vast amount of opportunities open to them should they choose a career in the industry.

>See also: A guide to overcoming the skills crisis in the cyber security industry

To help address the current skills shortage and persuade young talent that a career in STEM has the potential to be interesting and fulfilling, the industry has stepped in to work with the government and support academia in inspiring today’s young people.

One such example is the involvement from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), an IT services, consulting and business solutions provider. Its IT Futures programme, an initiative aimed at introducing students to the technology industry, has helped reach over 200,000 young people in more than 1,000 schools across the UK. A combination of online challenges, work experience events, coding competitions and classroom teaching, helps encourage students to embrace STEM.

This year saw TCS partner with Oxford University to host the online Oxford Computing Challenge for students between Year 6 to Year 13. More than 5,000+ students from across the UK participated in the challenge, making up the 10% top achievers of Bebras, a leading international initiative aiming to promote Computing Science and Computational Thinking among school students. Students taking part were set a series of tasks, encouraging them to use their current knowledge of STEM topics, logical thinking and general understanding of the world of computing.

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Taking the challenge out of the virtual world and into the real world, top performers will have the chance to attend TCS’ Innovation Forum, where they will receive their award in a professional and inspirational environment. The forum brings together senior technology executives, innovation practitioners and researchers from the TCS Co-Innovation Network (COIN™) to discuss new age technologies affecting the global business landscape. The aim is to give the students insights into the real world of STEM, networking opportunities with experts in the field and a lasting impression of the technology industry.

As one of the country’s largest digital employers, TCS UK is aiming to hire more than 250 graduates in 2018 alone, and to more than double the rate at which the business takes on apprentices. With big goals for 2018, TCS and the wider tech industry are continuing to support the future workforce to reduce the digital skills gap and make a career in STEM more appealing to all.

>See also: Skills shortage or skills wastage? Is your business squandering IT talent?

But with almost 90% of new jobs requiring digital skills to some degree and around 72% of employers stating they are unwilling to interview candidates who do not have basic IT skills, there’s more to be done than simply encouraging students to consider a career in STEM. If the UK is to continue to develop at speed, it is essential that the whole industry works with the government to reduce the digital skills shortage and make a career in STEM more appealing to all.

If you would like to find out more about TCS’ IT Futures initiative and how TCS is inspiring young people to get involved in STEM, please do get in touch and follow TCS on Twitter at @TCS_UKI

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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