From education to employment

We need to change the status quo if we are going to get young people into careers in tech

Jasel Nandha is the Head of Community and Partnerships at Here East

Despite the last two years being filled with huge uncertainty and disruption for students, school leavers are currently entering a historically buoyant job market. Whilst much of the conversation has focused on the issue in hospitality and retail, there are other sectors also searching for new talent.

The tech sector in particular has experienced a huge period of growth over the last 18 months and can provide sure-fire route for young people looking for an exciting and secure career.

But despite the obvious benefits of a career in tech, companies of all sizes – from small start-ups to multinational corporations, are struggling to fill their vacancies, with jobs in tech making up 13% of all UK job vacancies nationally. 

Right now is a really exciting time for the sector, with Tech Nation revealing how investment into UK start-ups has soared to £13.5bn in the first six months of 2021. Yet to future proof this progress, we need to change the status quo and think of innovative ways to get young people into technology related careers.

Gaming in particular has been a rising star of the tech industry over the last eighteen months, skyrocketing in popularity with many people turning to gaming to pass the time with 62% of British adults participating during lockdowns. As a result of this, there are a plethora of new job opportunities available to people in the gaming industry as its popularity rises from software designers to game programmers to professional game play testers. 

The sector’s growth has accelerated the demand for talent who all require different skill sets, including software engineering, designers, and marketers. We currently don’t have the talent required for future growth, with many companies struggling to find individuals with the right skills to fill job vacancies. This hasn’t been made easier by the repercussions of Brexit making it harder to secure workers from abroad, so we need to focus our attention more closely on how we can nurture homegrown talent.  

To ensure we have the skilled workforce we require for tech in the UK to thrive, we are going to have to be creative when it comes to training and upskilling people– especially if we are going to meet the talent requirements of fast-growing sectors like gaming which has a global market value of $180bn. We need to highlight how there are multiple routes into jobs of the future – and there are great ways into careers in tech through apprenticeships and training programmes hosted by businesses.

We must pique people’s interest from a young age and make them aware of job opportunities available in industries like gaming and other parts of the tech ecosystem such as AR or FinTech to name just two further examples- as well as making it clear on what types of skills they’ll need to succeed.  

At Here East, we’ve been creating a buzz around gaming and esports in particular through recently hosting Stack Fest – an action-packed esports and gaming festival bringing together enthusiasts within the sector and inspiring the next generation to develop the skills required to work in the industry. Its events like this that catalyse young people to want to study gaming at University or aim to secure an apprenticeship to improve their digital skills. 

It’s key for our continued economic bounce back to remain a global leader in tech, and collaboration will be essential to ensuring this. We need to work to strengthen our talent pipeline to fuel our tech sector and partnerships between universities, community groups and private institutions will be integral in making this a reality. 

This is why we’ve been working with the Good Growth Hub to launch our new Industry Insights programme to help kickstart the careers of young people from across East London in the gaming sector. 

Through our partnership with Into Games and Games Anglia, the course creates a pathway into the industry providing local young people with the training and education to gain employment in the sector. They will have the opportunity to secure a work placement in the gaming industry – which is key to inspiring and training the next generation. Upon completing the course, any participants who wish to apply for a gaming-related course at Staffordshire University London will have lots of examples to cite in their application. As the first University in the country to offer an esports degree it provides its students amazing opportunities to network with professionals in the space as well as providing them with the digital capabilities required for a successful career in the field.

We’ve also launched a scholarship programme awarding three full scholarships to our universities based on campus – giving young people living in the local area access to world-class institutions and business based at Here East. For example, one of the students has won a scholarship to study Game Design at Staffordshire University providing them with the chance to learn new skills opening doors in the gaming industry in the future.

Moving forwards, we need to continue to challenge the status quo and create innovative ways to inspire young people to want to improve their digital skills for jobs in the world of tech. We must work to normalise a multi-faceted approach – encouraging young people to do what is best to future proof their career – whether that is University, apprenticeship or alternative training.

Jasel Nandha is the Head of Community and Partnerships at Here East

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