As technology changes the way we live and work at a faster rate than ever before, the challenge faced by businesses is in keeping pace and ensuring staff have adequate skill levels to allow them to thrive throughout this evolution.
Challenges bring opportunities, and if we can develop a workforce with the knowledge to make the most of the digital world, to understand it and to drive future developments, we can transform the way we work and harness the capabilities of the technology available to us.
At Tata Consultancy Services Scotland, we are working to ensure tomorrow’s workforce is inspired to pursue a STEM career, with a particular focus on technology. We recently launched a work experience initiative for pupils in S3 and S4 entitled ‘Digital Explorers – Experience Work’ to provide youngsters with a taste of what they can expect from a career in the technology sector.
Digital Explorers – Experience Work introduced S4 and S5 secondary school pupils to TCS executives, engineers and industry professionals.
Hosted at Edinburgh’s Royal College of Surgeons, a programme of workshops, breakout sessions, debates, and discussions provided pupils with a chance to learn about the creative and technical skills that go into developing digital content. They were also informed about the impact of tech in our daily lives and the skills required for successful leadership.
Across the UK, there is an estimated shortfall of 40,000 graduates in STEM subjects. Recent studies have highlighted that 75% of businesses in the UK report a digital skills shortage in their employee base. We are seeking to eradicate this by showing today’s school pupils that technology is a hugely rewarding sector and an important part of Scotland’s future. We are also advising them on the practical steps they can take towards a career in the industry.
We are doing this through our IT Futures programme, which has reached over 200,000 young people across 600 schools throughout the UK since 2013. This has seen youngsters taking part in IT challenges, coding and application design competitions, and classroom teaching.
As a company, TCS play a key role in helping businesses and public bodies adapt to the evolving challenges and opportunities presented by digital technology. TCS has over 20 customers in Scotland, including some of the country’s best-known brands. In meeting this demand, we have more than doubled our local employee base in the last five years and we expect this number to continue to increase.
To ensure we are engaging with young people in the correct way and delivering programmes that suit them, we conducted the largest youth research project in Europe. We talked to more than 5,000 Europeans aged 18-29 from 15 different countries. The report found that social media has had a significant impact on the generation of young Europeans that have been surrounded by digital technologies when growing up.
By changing the way we share ideas, discover, learn and communicate, this generation has been empowered and profoundly influenced by the digital world. Digital technology has created a new breed of future employees across Europe. Businesses must start matching the direct approach of this generation, so they can gain their loyalty and harness their entrepreneurial energy.
A lack of digital skills is costing the UK economy around £63 billion each year. Successfully closing this skills gap is vital for business and tomorrow’s workforce. The good news for younger people is that they will have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills that will support businesses in Scotland in the years to come. It is something we at TCS Scotland are working hard to achieve.
Gopalan Rajagopalan is Head of Tata Consultancy Services Scotland and UK/I Sales Director