Two-thirds of UK business leaders say teaching children tech is more important than maths

Over half of the respondents to the same survey, conducted by CWJobs, say that schools don’t teach enough tech specialisms

The importance of teaching technology in schools outranks even maths and the sciences, according to more than two-thirds (68%) of industry experts polled in a new survey.

Commensurately, 80% said that having a tech specialism was an “important factor” when it came to choosing candidates for job vacancies, and for a variety of reasons, including: futureproofing the company, being able to train others, and giving the business leaders themselves an opportunity to learn.

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The research is detailed in ‘More than Code’, a report by tech recruitment website CWJobs, based on a survey of approximately 500 IT decision leaders in the UK.

Other key findings include:

  • 71% urged candidates to learn tech specialisms to futureproof their careers
  • 53% said schoolchildren are not taught sufficient tech specialisms
  • 73% thought children should be introduced to tech skills in primary school
  • 86% would consider partnering their business with a school or college in a bid to help close the tech skills gap

Narrowing said gap isn’t simply a matter for the education system, of course, with business leaders also calling for increased training programmes (52%), more state investment in the tech industry (50%) and a rise in apprenticeships (47%).

“Those with tech specialisms on their CV are being sought after by all companies, now more than ever”

“What’s clear is that learning a tech skill isn’t just something that’s relevant for one role or one industry,” said CWJobs director, Dominic Harvey. “The entire UK workforce needs to be embracing it if the country is to remain competitive on the world stage.

“The UK is facing a skills crisis and those with tech specialisms on their CV are being sought by all companies, now more than ever.”

Different industries require different specialisms, naturally, but an aggregate of all the survey’s responses found the most in-demand to be proficiency in cybersecurity (79%), followed by data analytics and business intelligence (both 76%).

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One sector placing cybersecurity expertise as its most preferred skill was retail, catering, sport and leisure.

“We are positioned in a complex sporting business world which is driven by increasingly sophisticated data analytics, cloud infrastructure and hardware wearables,” said Ronan MacRuairi, SVP of applied research and Irish operations at Catapult. “The majority of our work revolves around moving and manipulating data – everything we do starts with data acquisition, moves through data transformation storage and visits presentation along the way. This is true for business applications, simple apps and even console games.”

While coding is and will remain a fundamental skill for Catapult’s engineers, he continued, “this ability must be in context of how new software is deployed. Therefore, a strong understanding of cybersecurity, AI, DevOps and how your work is consumed by end users is extremely important.”