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Can Tech-obsessed Generation Stave Off Skills Crisis?

Article date: Wed, 02 Mar 2016 11:05 GMT

UKFast Campus

The widespread fantasy amongst youngsters to become a 'pop star' is being replaced by the dream of becoming a tech entrepreneur - that's according to a group of technology experts at a round table debate at UKFast.

The statement was made after experts challenged reports that the skills gap is reaching crisis levels, with over 12 million people in the UK falling into the digital skills gap. The experts are certain that whilst 'geek chic' has been a concept for some time, 2015 saw a tangible shift in perception towards the notion of the 'nerd'.

Lawrence Jones, CEO of technology and cloud firm UKFast, believes the shift in attitude is a positive step in the right direction.

He said: "Kids today are immersed in tech; they know more about it than any of us. We're looking at the next generation of tech entrepreneurs and we should be nurturing their interest in technology. At UKFast we're getting involved with the curriculum for Britain's schools. There needs to be a closer link between education and the businesses who are crying out for skills."

In February Jones, whose cloud company UKFast owns a £4.5m in-house training and development division, stepped in to help more than 150 apprentices from the collapse of Manchester firm Bright Future Software.

Tim Langley, CEO of SEO specialist CANDDI, agrees. He believes last year brought about a positive shift towards the concept of the 'business geek'.

He explained: "It's now cool to be an entrepreneur who's in tech, doing their own thing in business and making their own money. Youngsters now see this as a desirable career and want to do their own thing more and more, especially within the technology industry."

Despite the National Audit Office (NAO) claiming the tech skills gap is 'very concerning', Dan Nolan, CEO at digital marketing agency, the eWord, believes there are more encouraging associations surrounding tech entrepreneurialism, in comparison to a few years ago.

He said: "There's a new coolness to it now. It's sexy. Kids are thinking 'wow, I want to do that; I want to set up my own tech business and make my own money doing something I love'. In my opinion, the entrepreneur is absolutely the new popstar."

Jodi Birkett, technology partner at Deloitte, believes the digital skills gap will be closed by those who recognise that consumers drive the technology industry.

"We have seen a real shift over the past few years to a very consumer-driven technology industry, and the younger generation is immersed in that. They have seen it first-hand; they know what makes successful technology."

Matt Hunt, CEO at Apadmi Enterprise, believes that the shift in perception is a result of technology being at the heart of everything, becoming ever-more integral within society. From sport to gaming, to shopping and social networking, tech has a place in everything that interests today's younger generation.

He explained: "Technology has changed and is continually changing, and right now it's everywhere; it's pervasive. From computers to smartphones, to wearable tech and the internet of things it's in everything we are interested in.

"The power of technology is huge and very exciting, and this is exactly what youngsters are recognising."

The comments were made at a round table event held by cloud and colocation firm UKFast, at UKFast Campus in Manchester.

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