Postcards from the edge (of space)
A message to UK leaders and influencers about the future of technology, from Karen Field, CEO of Curo Talent
It has been seven years since the UK’s digital skills gap was first identified and defined in a range of academic studies. In the intervening months, the pace of technological innovation has increased, along with the demand for skilled employees in the digital sector. That, say Microsoft recruitment partner, Curo Talent, is why they took advantage of a recent space launch to send messages to industry and government figure heads to encourage action.
In July 2017, Shankar Narayanan, head of UK&I, Tata Consultancy Services, wrote an article for the New Statesman that explained why getting young people excited about technology was the key to closing a skills gap that costs the UK £63 billion every year.
The article cited a study by the British Chamber of Commerce that found 75 per cent of UK businesses reported a digital skills shortage in their workforce. In addition, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills reported in 2017 that 43 per cent of science, engineering, technology and maths (STEM) vacancies were hard to fill due to a lack of qualified candidates.
This is something we are very familiar with at Curo Talent – finding contractors for certain projects, particularly regarding the implementation of new programmes or technology, can be a challenge.
To help get the next generation excited about technology and demonstrate how important it is to have an eye on the future, we recently launched a Surface Book 2 into space. We were joined by 12 children from a primary school near the launch site in Swindon, who all placed postcards into the launch packet to travel to space and back with the Surface Book.
Space travel is the tip of the iceberg
There is a clear link between an active space programme and technology advancement in other areas, from education to industry — not to mention how excited people get about STEM when they are constantly reading about space travel.
The United States went as far as mandating technology transfer when NASA was established as the result of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958. Because the UK Space Agency is making strides to get off the ground, it’s vital that it has the support it requires from the highest levels of government and endeavours to engage with the technology sector across the UK.
It’s for this reason that I addressed my own postcard to the Prime Minister:
Dear Theresa May,
I would like to encourage you to support the UK Space Agency as the nation re-joins the space race. A thriving, well-funded space programme will encourage the development of homegrown technology that will benefit the nation across the board and position the UK as a tech leader.
This postcard has been to the edge of space. It has touched the future. Please keep it as a reminder of how far we can travel when we support the advancement of technology.
Karen Field, CEO
Meanwhile, our chief information officer wrote to Graham Turnock, chief executive of the UK Space Agency:
As you’ve just awarded £210,000 of funding for seven education and outreach activities to get young people interested in STEM and space, we thought you’d appreciate this postcard, which has itself been to space.
Active investment in space exploration will, no doubt, filter down and boost development of the wider UK technology industry. However, I would encourage you to engage with leading businesses in the sector to create a collaborative environment from the outset.
Mark Sewell, CIO
These postcards have been mailed to recipients with a certificate authenticating their trip to space. We hope that they have the intended effect and go some way to reminding these influential figures of the power they possess, to come together and change the technology landscape.
Curo Talent launched a Surface Book 2 into space from Swindon, in partnership with Sent Into Space, on Wednesday, November 22, 2017. Despite difficult weather conditions, the Surface Book travelled 21 miles to the stratosphere and returned to ground in full working order, having survived temperatures of minus 60 degrees Celsius and wind speeds of over 210mph.
For more information about Curo Talent, visit www.curotalent.com