Economic stagnation, global uncertainty, Brexit, extreme industry competition, and an ongoing flood of workers leaving the tech sector have culminated in an industry-wide employee deficit. And with the tech talent shortage reportedly costing the UK economy more than £50bn a year, employers are now seeking more unconventional ways to plug the skills gap. Could more diverse hiring be the answer? Totaljobs and the Social Mobility Foundation think it is.
Their joint report on social mobility and the path to employment
highlights the barriers to entering the tech sector for thousands of UK workers
from lower socioeconomic backgrounds (or lower SEBs), and how these candidates
could be the key to revitalising the UK tech, IT, and digital industry.
Barriers to entering the tech industry
There are employment barriers at every step of the way for candidates from lower SEBs, beginning before they even enter the workforce.
Nearly half of people who received Free School Meals or whose parents experienced long-term unemployment feel that their career options are limited by their educational background, while a person from a lower SEB is less likely to have gained valuable work experience in their formative years compared to their more privileged counterparts.
Then upon entering the workforce, people from lower SEBs earn half the average salary of people from professional backgrounds in their first job after full-time education.
Attracting hard-to-reach talent
So, how do you make the most of this untapped talent pool and level the playing field? The report lists three key goals; attract, recruit, and retain. That means focusing your recruitment efforts towards social mobility cold spots to diversify your talent pools, regularly reviewing your recruitment processes to ensure they aren’t unintentionally disadvantaging those from lower socioeconomic groups, and collecting socioeconomic data to use as the bedrock for understanding the experiences of your staff.
Let's focus on the attract goal. How exactly do you alter your recruitment process to ensure it’s accessible to candidates of all backgrounds? Here are some ways you can diversify your hiring strategy and help candidates from lower socioeconomic backgrounds to access your roles:
- Offer advice and application support, aimed specifically towards younger people.
- Ensure bias against indicators of lower socioeconomic backgrounds isn’t affecting your screening processes.
- Keep track of applications from lower socioeconomic backgrounds to understand how diverse a talent pool your roles attract.
- Invite unsuccessful applicants to mentoring and skills sessions to create an engaged talent pipeline for the future.
- Reassess your candidate requirements - question your assumptions about what qualifications are required for a role, and whether these requirements are excluding suitable candidates from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
The future of tech employment is likely to lie beyond the
norm, and more and more businesses will turn to previously unengaged candidates
to plug the skills gap. Making your hiring process more accessible for workers
from lower socioeconomic backgrounds not only levels the playing field, but
also helps to enrich your business with previously unfound skills and
Diverse tech recruitment with Applause IT
If you believe that diversifying your recruitment hiring strategy is the right move for your business, Applause IT can help. Our specialist consultants utilize industry-leading tools and automation to streamline our talent acquisition process and identify the right candidates for you. Get in touch today to discuss how we can work together to build your perfect team.
You can find the full Totaljobs and the Social Mobility
Foundation report on social mobility and the path to employment here.