A Refresh: Moving on from the Milkround
With Tech outgrowing more traditional industries we take a look at what Tech offers to young people, why the routes to entry aren't clear and how we can start to connect the two.
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- Posted 26th January
On the approach to graduation, your mind will typically turn to three career paths: consultancy, law and finance. These prestigious industries offer job security, impressive remuneration packages and the admiration of peers. (Or so you might think.) And even though flexibility and digitisation are becoming necessities in today’s society, it’s easy to still be drawn to the traditional pathways. As entrepreneur and former lawyer Andrew Yang puts it: “We no longer manufacture devices, we manufacture analyses.”
Surveys show just how sought after analyses-based jobs are in comparison to innovation-type careers. The Times’ Top 100 Graduate Employers for 2020 saw the Civil Service, PwC and Deloitte land the top three spots after students said they offered the best graduate opportunities. (Google was the only tech company to feature in the top ten.) Plus, the Big Four still snap up thousands of graduates each year, with PwC being the UK’s largest private sector graduate recruiter.
Whether it’s the allure of passing tough selection processes or the sheer quality that you expect from such companies, it’s clear that graduates are opting for the tried and tested routes. However, degree-holders aren’t sticking to them in the long term.
Attrition rates of 15% to 20% are well-known to exist within the Big Four. But a 2017 study by the Association of Graduate Recruiters noted that graduate retention has been steadily declining across the board. Employers are losing 16% of their graduates within two years, with 46% of new employees quitting after five years. The reasons ranged from better pay and progression to wanting a complete career change. Traditional career advice is also believed to have led to one in three graduates being “mismatched” to their first post-university job, according to 2018 Universities UK research findings.
Clearly, there’s a gap between expectation and reality; a distinction between what conventional industries say they’re offering and what graduates like you feel they’ve received. This is coupled with changes in the mindsets of your student cohort, Generation Z. Rather than hefty pay packets and longevity, Gen Z are yearning for a sense of purpose. When choosing a company to work for, they want somewhere where they can collaborate with others to make an impact.
The statistics prove it. According to a Dell Technologies survey of more than 12,000 young people, 45% longed for work with a deeper meaning and 38% wanted to work for a socially or environmentally responsible organisation. It’s no surprise, then, that your generation is also much more interested in joining smaller companies or start-ups than being nothing but a number in a big organisation. Or that the vast majority (80%) hope to work with cutting-edge technologies. In other words, you want to take the driver’s seat on the road to the future, not just sit and enjoy the ride.
Taking all of the above into account, it’s evident that a movement is brewing. You and your fellow high-achieving graduates don’t need to be given an ultimatum: choose a traditional career and give up your dreams of making tangible change, or opt for a more fulfilling path and endure less pay and prestige. Instead, you need, and are demanding, choice.
Choice is just one of the things the digital technology sector can offer. Whether you choose to work for a major creator, a smaller software company or in a supportive role, your options are limitless. Plus, you can rest easy knowing that your work will make a difference now or for future generations. Remuneration is also competitive with starting salaries kicking off at over £30,000 and the potential for sizeable financial returns later on.
The industry is growing, too – faster than any other sector in the UK. According to the World Economic Forum, more than 130 million new technology-related jobs will be created by 2022 and, in the UK, entry-level graduate positions in the sector have more than doubled. That’s in stark contrast to traditional professions, which have predicted a significant drop in graduate jobs in the next year. (A disruption that could be set to continue with further technological advancements.)
So why is it that tech companies are struggling to recruit people like you? Is it just because students are spellbound by mega financial and legal institutions? Or is there a deeper issue at hand? The problem appears to lie with the technology industry itself.
Despite already bouncing back from the COVID-19 downturn and holding 10% of the UK’s current job vacancies, this resilient sector is unable to secure talent because of its strict entry requirements. Employers say they can’t fill roles, but ask for a level of experience or specific technical degree that blocks talented graduates from the application process. Many also fail to offer the training required for a successful start in the industry. (It’s no wonder the average age of a cybersecurity professional is 42.)
But with training and ongoing support, those barriers will lift, helping you achieve your desired impact in the tech world and companies to grow exponentially. Development doesn’t have to be costly or lengthy. Fast-track schemes like ours are one efficient way of attracting diverse graduates, teaching crucial skills and adding immediate value to a company.
The benefits of such schemes are endless for both organisations and individuals. You can enjoy traditional perks like salary and career growth along with more modern advantages like positive societal impact. Companies, meanwhile, can finally attract the talent that has long been lost to them, soaking up the drive, literacy and freshness that comes with your generation.
Analysing the past, present and future is a worthy path. But we need to entice just as many people into building the world’s next steps. It’s time to connect you to a contemporary career that matches your many aspirations. Technology is the industry to do just that. But first, a little training and mentorship are in order.