From education to employment

Gen Z struggle to start tech careers – 54% take up to 9 months to get first role

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Starting a career in tech is proving a major challenge for Gen Z professionals, especially for women and ethnic minorities, with more than half (54%) taking between 4 to 9 months to secure their first entry-level role.

According to Wiley Edge’s Diversity in Tech 2023 report, nearly a fifth (18%) of this generation’s budding tech workers took 10 months or longer to start their careers.

Just 28% of respondents managed to secure a role within three months or less, meaning many are facing anxious waits to start their careers after university.

As a result, almost two-thirds (62%) of Gen Z respondents said they found it harder to secure a role than they had expected.

Many employers in Big Tech are slowing down or freezing recruitment, yet despite these headwinds, Gen Z remain interested in working for Big Tech according to the research.

More than half (53%) of Gen Z tech workers said they wanted to work for Big Tech over any other sector. Financial services was the second-favoured sector, but it was only the preferred choice for 16% of respondents.

Problems with recruitment in tech are clearly felt by the latest generation of employees entering the workforce, but businesses are also feeling the pressure. The research found that 92% of businesses face challenges when recruiting for entry-level tech roles.

The research exposed a gap between formal education and careers, with 45% of businesses stating that candidates for entry-level positions often lack core technical skills despite holding a relevant degree, and 26% said they lack soft skills. Forty-two percent of businesses also reported a scarcity of candidates with the right formal qualifications, with 43% saying the same about candidates from historically underrepresented groups.

Despite this dynamic, a university degree remains desirable to most. The study discovered that almost one in three (27%) businesses exclusively hire from the top universities, while 44% report that they are more likely to do so.

Khadijah Pandor, Head of Partnerships at Wiley Edge said:

“While it’s promising that so many Gen Z professionals are trying to make a name for themselves in technology, it’s disheartening to see that so many are facing long waits to make their career dreams a reality.

“Education is paramount in helping tech careers become more accessible. Gen Z professionals need to be made aware of the rewarding and good-paying tech roles outside of Big Tech. Whether in smaller firms or sectors such as retail, healthcare, finance and manufacturing, opportunities for skilled tech workers are abundant, but knowledge of these opportunities is less so.

“Tech roles are also hugely skills dependent, and our findings highlight that many recent graduates looking to start their career are not meeting the skills requirement employers set. Bridging the skills gap must be a priority for businesses to ensure more impactful recruitment in the long-term.

“University qualifications can’t always keep up with the pace of technological change, therefore future generations will benefit from additional job-specific training. Businesses also need to discover new ways to introduce and nurture talent from diverse backgrounds into their workforce to level the playing field for talent and overcome the digital skills shortage.”

For more information about Wiley Edge, please visit here.

Wiley Edge is the emerging talent and reskill training partner for public and private organisations across the globe.

Wiley Edge bridges the skills gap in technology, banking services and other high-demand disciplines by connecting education to the working world. Led by industry, the Academy curriculum adapts to meet ever-changing requirements.

Wiley Edge helps build pipelines of diverse, custom-trained talent – complementing traditional hiring strategies like internal graduate programmes and reactive recruitment.

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