Ten years ago, we would have been talking about the possibilities that mobile devices offer our young professionals (with the invention of the iPhone coming just three years earlier in 2007). ‘Big data’, as a phrase, was first coined in 2005 by Roger Mougalas of O’Reilly media, but it’s only really now that we’re beginning to understand and utilise the true potential of data.
We hear a lot from our students and apprentices that the job market is incredibly crowded out there, despite the prediction of 800,000 unfilled IT jobs in the UK by 2020. Many of them are using BCS membership and standards, such as RITTech, to help them stand out from the crowd.
The good news is that digital apprenticeships are on the rise, with BCS having recently completed close to 5000 end-point assessments. In the last decade, we saw a near 20% rise in those taking technology or engineering degrees and a 5% rise in computer science degrees.
If there are plenty of qualified people looking for a job, where do the vacancies come from? In truth, there are many digital and IT positions and careers that many would think don’t exist, or that aren’t for them.
Sophie Lorusso, Early Years Recruiter for St James’s Place Wealth Management, knows this problem only too well. She said: ‘when we’re looking to recruit early years professionals or apprentices, we don’t necessarily look at the technical skills people have. Obviously, these are important, but for us, it’s more to do with the right ‘can do’ attitude and the will to do the right thing for the right reasons. That’s why membership - and particularly standards - are so important to us, as it helps to validate your current skills without the need for a qualification.
‘Being in the finance industry, everyone expects us to be looking for the highest maths qualifications possible before even considering a candidate, but that’s simply not the case. A lot of our apprentices come to us with sport or drama A-Levels, but they understand the culture and have a strong will to learn.
‘Personally, I failed my maths GCSE first time around and here I am, working for a wealth management company. Although, I’m not in a technical role myself, we still apply this same attitude to all of our positions. So, don’t ever rule yourself out of applying for a position because you don’t think you’d be what a company is looking for.’
With the direction that finance is taking with the introduction of block-chain and machine learning, it’s becoming a very “tech-focused” industry, but what about those who aren’t so obvious? BCS does a lot of work in the healthcare industry, through health membership offerings and the health specific standard, FEDIP - helping to drive digital innovation within healthcare and the NHS.
‘It is a super exciting time for the NHS in the digital space,’ says Aasha Cowey, Programme Manager, NHS South Central and West, ‘with developments from population health management and shared care records to innovations in digital first primary care and virtual appointments instead of going to your local hospital.’
Cowey continues: ‘when I was at university, I hadn’t considered a career in the NHS personally. Not that I didn’t want to, other than going down a clinical route, the thought of all the other roles that are part of running the NHS just simply hadn’t crossed my mind. There are a huge range of non-clinical roles within the NHS, working to deliver world class care. However, if the NHS is going to truly transform in the way outlined above, the workforce needs an overhaul. We need talented people from a wide variety of academic and social backgrounds and in return, they will have the opportunity to work on things that can quite literally save lives.
‘The NHS is starting to recognise this. It’s made up of many individual organisations and some are further ahead than others, but with national programmes focused on exactly how we build a digital ready workforce, with the skills and capabilities required, there is significant traction underway. Over the last year, I’ve been lucky to work in an organisation that is taking this stuff seriously. Things will not change overnight, but we have been looking at ideas such as how individuals can be exposed to different parts of the business, understanding if our staff have training needs and supporting professional body registration.’
BCS membership opens the door to network with a whole range of industries and people across all stages of their careers. Benefits such as our personal development tools and mentoring system mean you can get the most out of your membership and set yourself on a career path you may not even have thought possible.
For more information about membership and how to apply from as little as £20 per year for students and apprentices, please visit bcs.org/membership.
Image credit: This is Engineering