Last year, technology, media and telecoms companies witnessed an extraordinary 119% increase in tech job vacancies. This research from Vacancysoft underlines that we are clearly living through a challenging time for talent. The amount of demand, particularly from technology firms, is far outstripping the number of candidates with the skills to fill these roles. This trend is only exacerbated by the so-called ‘Great Resignation’, a dramatic shift in the labour market during the COVID-19 pandemic as workers reassess their careers and seek out new roles – many driven by a search for more meaningful and purposeful work.
In this challenging market, there is a need for organisations to think differently about connecting with talent. Graduate schemes are excellent tools for finding highly educated candidates, ready and willing to deliver high quality results for a company. But at NTT DATA UK, we believe there is a need to go further and widen the pool of people we look to recruit from. It was this mission that brought us to route2work.
We were delighted to partner with route2work to sponsor a cohort of women to enrol as part of one of four digital skills academies, helping open up opportunities for more people to access a career in technology. Its incredible technology is a truly revolutionary approach to recruitment, assessing candidates’ aptitude for moving into a career in technology and tapping into previously undiscovered talent.
In this blog I will reflect on our successful partnership with route2work, and the lessons it holds for how organisations can approach recruitment going forward.
The success of route2work
Our partnership with route2work all began with our ongoing DoDiversity initiative, as we work to support women into tech careers and invest in their continuous development. Our sponsored candidates enrolled as part of four digital skills academies, where they received training in core Microsoft skills. By the end graduates had gained key competencies to be taken into a career in technology, and the opportunity to interview for a role at NTT DATA.
Working with these graduates gave us an unprecedented opportunity to give back and create new opportunities for the communities we serve around the UK. As demonstrated in our recent commitment to the Microsoft Pledge, we are committed to investing in improving digital skills in the UK and helping boost the potential of our economy. Our work with route2work helped us to do just that, reaching potential candidates we might not have accessed through traditional recruitment channels.
We were proud to see the fantastic diversity of candidates on the route2work programme. Many of the candidates involved came from other sectors in search of retraining opportunities to move into tech, or were simply people who had always encountered obstacles to a career in technology. I was particularly blown away by one candidate: a widowed mother of four who was working on the London Underground, and was learning IT skills to build a career that would better support her family.
Why diversity is so important
Schemes like route2work are vital for building a truly diverse workforce. By identifying, interviewing, and training candidates from a wide range of backgrounds, a business ends up with a diverse selection of people who are technically capable and ready to fill business needs.
Having a diverse set of talent is essential. Fundamentally speaking, it is the right thing to do. Regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, race or economic background, everybody deserves to feel welcome in any sector they choose to enter.
Diversity also drives financial success, bringing a wide array of perspectives and new ideas that fuel innovation in today’s fast-paced economy. Cloverpop's diversity report shows that decisions made and executed by diverse teams delivered 60% better results.Crucially, investing in diversity creates a powerful virtuous circle for businesses in the rush to attract and retain talent. Diverse teams send out a clear message of inclusivity and openness to prospective candidates, providing the role models who can demonstrate what a career in tech has to offer for applicants.
More than that, as people reassess career choices in the era of the Great Resignation, they are looking for businesses who help to build a better world with their policies. It is no longer enough for a company to just promise opportunities like international travel or benefits such as flexible working. A recent study from MIT found that the top reason workers were resigning was toxic work culture – concerns over pay ranked 16th. Candidates want a job filled with purpose and meaningful work, driven by cutting edge work in areas like sustainability, D&I, and wider CSR.
Closing the gap
If we are to meaningfully address the technology skills gap and the Great Resignation, leaders need to be innovative in how we recruit and attract talent. Undoubtedly, our partnership with route2work will not work for every organisation and its individual needs. But it does hold lessons that every business leader should remember.
It shows the value of partnerships. There is a vibrant ecosystem of firms rethinking the art of the possible in recruitment. This is not an expertise which firms necessarily need to develop themselves. At NTT DATA UK we understand that it is not a sign of weakness to rely on a partner – it is a sign of strength.
Above all, route2work highlights that relying on competing for candidates from the same small pool every year is a risky approach. It is far better to challenge the status quo and look for ways to find hidden talent. The recent route2work graduates' testimonials showcase how many amazing people there are out there, full of potential to thrive in a career in tech – but who had previously faced obstacles to enter the sector.
It is our duty as businesses to level these obstacles. We need these people to create the diverse workforces that will fuel the waves of innovation in technology over the next decade and beyond. They are the leaders of tomorrow, and it is our responsibility to ensure they have every chance to thrive.
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