Sharpen your digital skills, employers tell graduatesTOO FEW GRADUATES CAN CODE, SAY TECH FIRM BOSSES

UK graduates are missing out on jobs because their grasp of digital technology is not strong enough, according to top employers.

Technology firms say there are too few graduates with digital skills, such as web design or computer programming, for the jobs available. Hugh Milward, director of corporate affairs at Microsoft said:

“In the software industry alone there are 20,000 graduate vacancies a year, and only 7,500 computer science graduates to fill them.

“Digital skills such as coding are being demanded not only by the high-tech sector, but by fast-growing sectors like media, publishing and finance.”

And new research from O2 showed that parents could be indirectly responsible for the skills shortage as they are encouraging their children into “traditional” careers which they consider to be stable and low-risk, but which are actually more competitive than fast-growing new industries which involve the use of technology. The mobile phone company said this showed a “disturbing disconnect” between skills in demand from employers and those valued by parents.

One in 10 of 2,000 parents said they would “actively discourage” their kids from digital jobs such as coding. And 23% thought digital skills were “irrelevant”. In contrast, 38% said they would advise their children to take up law or medicine.

Twice the number of students in the UK took up degrees in medicine compared with computer science between 2012 and 2013, according to figures from the Higher Education Statistics Association. Ann Pickering at O2, said it was “no surprise” parents were “struggling” to keep pace, adding:

“I’m a parent, and if I didn’t work for a technology company I wouldn’t realise the opportunities that are out there. [But] it is getting harder to get the skills we [at O2] require. These are skills that didn’t exist five years ago, like with social media, for example.”

If your digital skills are somewhat lacking, it’s not to late. Many recruitment experts say that taking a short course in social media or coding – such as Decoded’s ‘Code in a Day’ can give you the edge when applying for graduate roles.

If you studied a ‘traditional’ or creative course and are struggling to find paid work, do you regret not studying a more technical degree course? Who advised you to study the subject you picked? Do careers advisers, parents and teachers need to modernise their views on what the ‘safest’ subjects to study are now, in today’s digital world?

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