The results are in! Our annual North East Digital Skills Audit 2022 explored supply and demand of digital skills in the North East of England, and identified a gap in industry experience. Read more about our findings here.

The annual Digital Skills Audit explores gaps in the supply and demand of tech talent in the UK. Our North East Digital Skills Audit focuses on (you guessed it), the North East of England. 

In our audit last year, we focused on regional businesses. Our results showed that, despite the pandemic, businesses were recruiting more for technical vacancies but struggled to fill roles. 

This year, we’ve had a strong representation of the supply side of tech talent and asked about their experiences. 

Gaps in Industry Experience among Students  

Students of different ages and educational backgrounds, from university and college students to participants of digital skills bootcamps, responded to our skills audit. 

82% of those students responded that they have no industry experience, which means they may leave university or college without practical work examples on their CVs, making it more difficult for them to find jobs. 

Of course, entry level talent is called entry level for a reason. We can’t expect students to have a list of work experience, and providing initial experience won’t fill the gap that exists in recruiting for senior roles. However, we believe that there is an opportunity in helping entry level talent develop more practical skills that will benefit both them and the company in their first full-time role. 

It’s great to see that opportunities are already taking place in the region. For example, at SSC we work with T-Level students in Sunderland to connect them with local businesses who have exciting tech projects available. But there are organisations doing brilliant things in the region too, including universities that provide work experience and cover part of the employment costs. 

Looking beyond University and College

It’s important to note that entry level talent into the tech sector do not just come from educational institutions. 

When asking employees within the tech sector about how they first started in tech, we found that only 21% of our respondents first moved into a tech career as a graduate.  

Whilst graduating from an educational institution to pursue a career in tech remains the predominant route to enter the tech sector, other pathways should be considered too when looking at the wider talent pipeline. For example, respondents also said they had moved into tech from different industries (18%), through self-learning (18%), or an apprenticeship (8%). 

This suggests the importance of digital and tech learning opportunities outside of college and university. Indeed, 43% of our student respondents said they had already been engaging in bootcamps to help them upskill. This is undoubtedly linked to the rise in skills bootcamps within the region. 

Gender Gap Will Continue in Future

We know that the digital (and wider STEM) sectors struggle with a lack in diversity. Based on our audit, it looks like this trend is at risk to continue. Most student respondents with an interest in the digital sector, identified as male (88%) and white. This suggests the importance of continuing work done to inspire a wider range of individuals into careers in STEM. A variety of mentorship programmes already exist in the region, such as The Girl’s Network and the STEM Ambassadors Scheme, that we would encourage anyone to get involved with. 

Working toward a Solution 

Knowing what challenges exist in the region is one thing, but we need to come up with collaborative ways to combat them too. At the Dynamo Conference on the 21st of June, we will be organising multiple working groups to further discuss the challenges and to generate solutions in partnership with delegates and businesses. 

These proposed solutions will be presented back here on our blog. We will also continue to work with those who took part (and anyone else interested) on follow-on actions. 

To get involved, or for more information, please get in touch by emailing Jill.Mckinney@sunderlandsoftwarecity.com  

For a full overview of results from the North East Digital Skills Audit 2022, please click here.