Almost half of the North East’s digital organisations found it difficult to fill positions within their companies over the past year. Could the candidates’ lack of experience be to blame? 

Following the North East Digital Skills Audit 2022 and a panel discussion at the Dynamo Conference 2022, which focused on ‘Helping North East Businesses Find the People they Need’, there is much to be said about our skills gap.

Education 

We have a captive audience of around 3,000 graduates coming from degrees in tech every single year. This is on top of those who choose to follow tech and digital routes after their studies, those coming from apprenticeships and those looking for a career change. To put this into perspective, just 21% of early talent entered the sector via a (non- apprenticeship) tech related degree. The talent pool in the North East seems big enough...

What's the Issue? 

Lack of Experience 

One cause of the disparity between the number of open job roles that businesses are wanting to fill, and the pool of candidates is, and has always been, lack of experience. Through the Digital Skills Audit, 82% of students told us that they have no industry experience. With some organisations expecting at least a year of experience, candidates with none are often immediately disregarded or become discouraged before they even apply.  

There are skills bootcamps already ongoing in the region to give the talent pool a bit of a boost, with 43% of students telling us that they are already utilising bootcamps and workshops to help them to upskill. Nevertheless, there also needs to be some action coming directly from employers, whether that is considering apprenticeships, offering industry insight talks for students or even in-house learning and development opportunities.  

Leaving the North East 

Whilst many candidates look to London for tech and digital jobs, this doesn’t have to be the case. Whilst the prospect of a higher salary is one contributing factor, lack of awareness is another. The North East is home to a smorgasbord of tech and digital businesses, but not enough is done to shout about them.  

The responsibility for this does not just lie with education providers but with businesses as well. With plenty of existing initiatives for businesses to choose from, such as our Sunderland Digital Careers and Inspire North of Tyne programmes, there are ample opportunities to  and connect employers with young people. 

Our Cryptic Tech Sector

Jargon, made-up job titles and acronyms, the tech sector is full of it. If you haven’t got your foot in the door already, this can cause a lot of people to become disenfranchised.  

It is time for businesses to take more care when pushing out job ads. Cutting the frills from job titles, clarifying techy-lingo and simplifying descriptions is all going to have a positive impact on applications. As well as this, talent is no longer looking solely on LinkedIn for the latest jobs. Instagram and Twitter allow applicants to have an insight into company culture, might they be the best channels for advertising roles too?  

In simple terms, work needs to be done to demystify the tech sector.  

Final Thoughts 

Collaboration is key. More needs to be done to push businesses and education providers together to bridge the gap in experience, open more doors to our tech and digital sector and raise awareness of the amazing local careers that we do have on our doorstep.  

There are some fantastic initiatives that we have here in the region making a positive impact on our talent pipeline every day. Organisations need to take a step forward towards bridging the gap and simply take a chance and nurture the North East’s talent pool.  

Many thanks to the panellists that took part in some engaging discussions at the Dynamo Conference 2022 and those that have been working hard to produce the North East Skills Audit 2022.  

To find out more, read more about the importance of getting involved with emerging talent here. Or if you would like to continue the conversation, please email Jill McKinney, our Head of Skills, at Jill.McKinney@Sunderlandsoftwarecity.com