How are companies filling tech skills shortages? And what do career switchers need to know?

The UK has an incredible tech scene, with over 100 tech unicorns now based in the country – more than in all of Europe combined

However, there is a significant blot on the horizon that threatens the long-term sustainability of this success.

In a report published earlier this year, Total Jobs reported that 71% of technology employers expect to face at least a moderate skills shortage in the next 12 months. The report also highlighted that UK CTOs are desperate to recruit people with strong software development skills. Filling these skill gaps is a major challenge.

Like a lot of other industries, the tech sector has traditionally focused on drawing its talent from universities. Of course, there is good reason for this. But at the same time, university courses are very long and very expensive. This means there is a natural lag and limit on the candidates coming through university. There is also a historic lack of diversity – less than 20% of students on computer science courses are women.

Given the urgency of the demand for skills, it’s no surprise that many employers are reassessing their entry requirements for tech roles and opening up roles to candidates from alternative educational backgrounds.

Given the attractions of software development as a career, there is a huge opportunity for people to capitalise on this shift in tech recruitment – especially as the pandemic has led more people to seriously considering reskilling.

The question is – what should career switchers do about it?

Putting careers outcomes first

To support career switchers, we need training that is much more focused on career outcomes. ‘Learning to code’ isn’t enough for employers or employees. We aren’t talking about software development as a hobby. At the same time, there is increasing recognition that university degrees aren’t necessarily teaching practical, applicable skills that are preparing students for the life of a professional developer. This isn’t helped by the long cycle of university courses – which makes it difficult to be truly responsive to the constantly and rapidly evolving professional tech landscape.

What career switchers need is a fast-track to start their career in tech. They need intensive and tailored training programmes so they can build and demonstrate relevant practical skills and find a job.

This is where bootcamps and tech academies, like Boolean, are providing a valuable service, training job-ready students and delivering tons of practical coding experience.

Until recently, many of these courses were perceived more as a useful ‘first step’ towards a career in tech. However, with employers seriously looking at alternative sources of talent, it is now entirely feasible to use these courses to quickly transition into a new career.

Not all courses are created equal

Of course, that doesn’t mean every bootcamp or academy is created equal. For people that are serious about starting a career in tech they need to find the right course with the right curriculum and the right approaches.

Career switchers should be looking for courses that teach a range of the most widely used technologies and modern programming languages. This includes: Javascript, the dominant web and front-end language; Node.js, which allows students to create servers and APIs and build full-stack Javascript applications; React, which is currently the most widespread UI framework; and Typescript, a technology growing in popularity that introduces students to statically typed languages and the concept of types.

Equally important is the type of instruction a course will deliver. For example, Boolean provides a six-month course with 1:1 support to accelerate the pace of learning. There are also more practical considerations. Online learning removes location barriers and gives students more control to fit education around their life.

Again though, it is worth doing your research when considering an online course. Teaching online isn’t as simple as running lectures on Zoom. There needs to be deeper digital infrastructure and processes to support students and teachers, and to create a positive learning environment.

And finally – does the course provide any careers support? At Boolean we offer students six months of support after completing the course to help them find a job. If unsuccessful they will receive a full refund.

Capitalising on the opportunity

Ultimately, the goal – for both employers and employees – is to find courses that build confident and competent software developers. Career switchers need to find training courses that will not only give them a solid foundation in programming logic, but that also give them the skills, concepts, and mindset they need to flourish as a professional software developer.

The recent pragmatism of employers means there has never been a better time for people to reskill and switch career. Working with academies like Boolean will be crucial to meeting the demand for skills with high quality, motivated candidates.

About the Author

Fabio Forghieri is CEO and Founder at Boolean. Our ambition at Boolean is to revolutionise the world of tech education, taking a modern and innovative approach to teaching. We’ve taken inspiration from the best bits of classroom learning – engagement, group exercises, and sense of community – and we’ve fused it with the online world. We’re careful to select the right candidates who have the right balance of hidden talent and passion and drive. Our guiding principle is top quality and satisfaction for our students and employers.