TCA aims to tackle UK IT skills gap

New not-for-profit company aims to help fill 100,000 IT jobs.

  • 1 month ago Posted in

The UK IT channel contributes around £50Billion to the UK economy yet growth is restricted by the need to recruit enough staff to plug the current skills gap. Tech Channel Ambassadors is a new Community Interest Company (CIC) created to promote the channel IT industry, and to bolster inclusivity in the sector.

Tech Channel Ambassadors aims to raise awareness of career opportunities across the IT channel to those in education, those returning to employment, and those looking to change career. This includes, but is not limited to, career opportunities for girls, BAME, disabled, neurodiverse and disadvantaged groups.

The UK channel needs to recruit around 100,000 people to plug the current skills gap, with businesses spending around £1.5bn a year just to hold onto key staff and avoid losing them to the competition.

And Tech Channel Ambassadors will also work to dispel some of the myths associated with careers in tech including you don’t need to be a coder to get at job, less than 5% of roles involve coding, and most roles do not require science and maths skills.

The Tech Channel Ambassadors (TCA) team is calling on vendors, distributors, VARs, system integrators and service providers to join and make it a component of their ESG efforts. As part of TCA, they will be helping to strategically address the systemic failure to attract enough diverse talent into the industry, through both outreach and education.

TCA’s member companies will be encouraged to invite younger staff members to act as industry Ambassadors, who will visit schools, deliver positive presentations of their experience and engage with pupils to encourage them to recognise the IT channel as a future career choice.

TCA will provide content, delivery and engagement support, and will work closely with organisations supporting LBGTQ+, the BAME community, neurodiverse, minorities, disadvantaged backgrounds, maternity leave returners and retired people who want to return to work, plus others, to ensure a structured, long-term approach.

The Community Interest Company’s leadership committee includes; Ian Kilpatrick, former EVP of Nuvias, Crayon managing director Hayley Mooney, Distology CEO Hayley Roberts, Westcoast executive director Alex Tatham, Rubrik's director of channels and alliances Lisa Roberts, Rebecca Monk, chief people officer at Softcat, and Wendy Shore from the TCA .

The idea for TCA was born from Kilpatrick’s frustrations with talent recruitment and retention, in this a sector crying out for more people. With 40 years’ channel experience, and involvement with the STEM Generation Charity, the channel veteran felt it was time to create tangible action to address the sector’s strategic failings around recruitment requirements.

Ian Kilpatrick says: "We need more people in the IT industry, particularly women, and feedback is saying to get youngsters interested in the industry as early as possible - from primary school level.

"We have had a shortage of talent for decades, and there is a continual stress point with companies paying money to hire and retrain talent, followed by churn and then repeating the cycle again. This impacts remuneration at all points in the business chain, which then negatively impacts growth and profits.

"Everyone is struggling to get more staff. What we need is a channel-wide strategy that goes down to schools and up to government and NGO levels. We have to make the message heard that our industry is an area where you can do great things."

And while he stresses that that there are numerous companies delivering exceptionally good practice, the founding members of the committee being prime examples, it is the exception not the rule, and we need to implement an industry wide strategic approach to raise awareness that the IT Channel is positive career choice for those in education.

"What we need is a co-operative approach, across the channel to address the systemic failure to attract enough talent into the industry, both tactically, but also strategically," he said. "As a multi-billion-pound industry – including vendors, distributors, VARs, SI's and service providers – we have all the capabilities to address the awareness and inclusiveness issues to resolve this.

We believe there is a fundamental requirement for the channel to go beyond universities and into schools at Key Stage Three and Four, and even at Key Stage Two level - to drive awareness of the breadth of opportunities.

TCA will provide hands-on experiences through internships, industry collaborations and real-world projects, and drive networking opportunities with industry leaders, technology providers and business professionals.

"We have seen that students often self-exclude because they say they are not great at maths and science - but you don't have to excel at those subjects to get into the channel. There are huge career prospects around sales, marketing, customer experience, logistics, and way more - the possibilities are endless. They just need to know this," says the IT veteran.

TCA will also interact with school career advisors, LEPS and governments and NGOs to grow its network and awareness.

TCA is looking for companies and individuals to participate in raising the profile of the IT channel to boost our mutual success. To find out more and to become a member of Tech Channel Ambassadors, visit the website here, www.techchannelambassadors.org. We are extremely grateful to Hive learning for hosting our ambassador's platform.  

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