UK universities are still not doing enough to attract students into the digital, data and tech industry, a leading academic has warned, meaning firms are being forced to search overseas for talent.
Professor Kamal Bechkoum, head of the School of Computing & Engineering at the University of Gloucestershire, has warned that with 1 million tech and digital jobs currently vacant across the UK, employers are finding it increasingly difficult to hire the graduates needed to meet growing demands in areas such as cyber security, artificial intelligence and robotics.
Professor Bechkoum added: “Naturally, higher education institutions train new and experienced workers in the specific skills they need, but the widespread lack of homegrown graduates considering technical pathways often results in industry having to search for and recruit candidates from overseas.
“It is important that universities and industry make young people aware that they have the opportunity to develop long, rewarding and secure futures.”
According to one recent analysis of the UK employment market shows, average entry-level positions in cyber security start at up to £35,000 a year, rising to £70,000; robotics graduates can start at £31,000, rising to £58,500, and AI graduates start on £45,000, can go on to make upwards of £70,000.
However, between January to May 2022, there were almost 1 million technology and digital job vacancies open across the UK as demand for tech products and services rises to heights not seen in the past decade.
This figure does not include the rest of the workforce who need to be upskilled to meet the needs of the digitised workplace.
Professor Bechkoum concluded: “Over the past year, the demand for cyber security professionals has increased by 60% and, as a result of the pandemic, many industries have seen an acceleration in digital transformation and remote working, resulting in an increased risk of cyber-attacks.
“Further to this, the World Economic Forum is currently predicting that 42% of jobs will need upskilling or reskilling to meet future technological demands, the potential obstacles for organisations is huge – particularly in the important areas of cyber, AI, robotics and automation.
“Demand for talented people who can think outside of the box is paramount, but at the same time, finding and developing the right graduates is increasingly vital.”
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