Almost a quarter (22%) of 16-17 year olds have decided to pursue a career in tech since the pandemic. That’s according to research from UK scaleup Talent Works, which surveyed UK students and tech professionals in the early stages of their careers on their education and the journey into tech.
The research, conducted among 400 students and young professionals, coincides with the launch of the ScaleUp Week, which brings together UK scaleup leaders to explore the crucial issues facing growing businesses today.
Large vs small organisations
Talent Works’ survey also found that the majority of young tech professionals are encouraged by their academic establishment to join large organisations upon graduating (46%). In fact, graduates are often encouraged to overlook small and scaling companies and 23% are given no career advice at all. Despite favouring large organisations over fast-growth businesses, the UK startup and scaleup ecosystem had a record year in 2020, with UK tech startups valued at £422.55bn.
Different experiences for male and female talent
When it comes to starting their careers, only 7% of young professionals found it ‘very easy’ to find their first role, and women were more likely to find it hard (31%) compared to men (21%). A fifth of all respondents (21%) also felt that tech courses at university don’t provide valuable post-degree business insights, emphasising the gap between the university experience and entering their first tech role.
When asked who encouraged them into technology, parents (27%) and teachers/the education system before university (24%) were the top choices, followed by professors/the university system (18%) and role models (15%). Women were more likely to be encouraged by teachers/education (54%) than men (29%), whereas men were more likely to have parents that took STEM subjects (44%) than women (21%).
However, when it came to young professionals ranking their tech education, women were less likely to rank their tech education as very good (17%) compared to men (26%). Over half of women (54%) also rated the guidance they received as ‘poor – neutral’ compared to only 41% of men.
Chair of ScaleUp Institute, Adam Hale, commented: “Preparing and equipping students across the UK to join the tech sector has never been more crucial. There is a huge disparity between the amount of women in tech compared to men, and it starts in schools to encourage and support their interest in tech. Take A-Levels, for example. Computing is the 19th most popular subject overall, but is the 28th most popular subject for women. By not encouraging women into STEM while in school and the education system, the tech sector is missing out of the next generation of brilliant tech minds.”
Paul Newnes, Head of Innovation at Talent Works, added: “The number of tech roles is increasing at an incredible rate, but the UK needs a new generation of tech talent to enter these roles. Encouraging young people into STEM begins at school and university, but we need to ensure that these students have the right guidance to help them start their careers. With so many exciting tech startups and scaleups in the UK, the next generation of tech talent should be encouraged to join organisations of all sizes, rather than limiting themselves to only the major players.”