From education to employment

Damaging misconceptions are preventing young people from considering a rewarding future in technology

QA’s CEO, Paul Geddes


Sixteen- to 24-year-olds in the UK have worrying misconceptions about the entry requirements for a career in technology, preventing fresh talent from entering the industry. The findings come from research conducted by QA, the UK’s leading digital and tech skills organisation, ahead of tomorrow’s A-Level results day.

Over two fifths (42%) of young people surveyed believe that you need to be a straight-A student to work in technology and 60% of respondents believe that a university education is required. The research also found that:

  • Almost a third (31%) of young people don’t think they are clever enough to work in the technology sector.
  • Nearly three-quarters (77%) of young people mistakenly believe that being good at maths and science is essential for a career in technology.
  • 39% think that not studying computing at school or college is a barrier to working in technology.
  • 1 in 5 respondents do not think they can afford the training required for a career in technology.

Positioning technology as a more rewarding career choice

Perceptions of the salaries that tech workers can earn might also be holding people back. While 40% of respondents claimed that high salaries would encourage them to pursue a tech career, only 10% of respondents thought it would be possible to earn over £74k in the industry. The reality is that tech roles are relatively well paid, with the average salary being £75k.

“For our entry-level tech apprenticeships, we look for people with the right aptitude and attitude to succeed, rather than specific STEM qualifications,” said Paul Geddes, CEO, QA.

“With salaries well above average, tech offers a career choice that should appeal to a diverse range of future jobseekers. Whether it’s via an apprenticeship or a degree apprenticeship, a tech career provides access to some of the UK’s most interesting and rewarding jobs. Apprenticeships offer the added bonus that young people can learn and get valuable work experience whilst earning, addressing the concerns about the costs of learning voiced by nearly a quarter of respondents to this survey.”

Encouragingly, 65% of parents of children aged 11 to 16 now believe that apprenticeships have the same value as a university degree. They also ranked tech in the top four of the career pathways they would be the proudest of their child pursuing, behind legal (third), science (second) and medical (first).

“As the largest provider of technology apprenticeships in the UK, we have helped kickstart the tech careers of many people who are not degree-educated, including many who have not studied STEM subjects at A Level,” says Paul Geddes.

“I would encourage all candidates receiving their results this week to consider the amazing opportunities that exist in the tech sector.”

QA is the UK’s largest provider of technology apprenticeships, having trained more than 30,000 apprentices across the UK in critical tech disciplines from cyber to data analysis and software development.

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