UK ITDMs Demand Government Action On STEM In Brexit Wake

Tuesday 27 September 2016

New Survey from IP EXPO Europe Shows 70% of ITDMs believe UK Government should do more to attract young people to technology professions


LONDON – 27 September 2016 – New research commissioned by IP EXPO Europe, Europe's number one enterprise IT event, today reveals that 23% of UK IT decision makers (ITDMs) identified STEM and the need for young IT talent as one of the main technology issues for enterprises in 2017. Over half (55%) of respondents currently believe the lack of young talent at their organisation is an issue; a rising concern with 26% stating they are more worried about not having enough young talent in the workforce now than 12 months ago.


In light of this ITDMs are calling for Government action to help. 70% believe the UK Government should be doing more to encourage students and young people to enter technology professions. In fact, over a third (35%) are demanding more direct investment to solve the issue. With 27% claiming that the recent Brexit vote could lead to a skills shortage of qualified IT professionals, immediate action was demanded to address the situation.  


Bradley Maule-ffinch, Director of Strategy for IP EXPO Europe, comments “For the last couple of years the lack of STEM skills has been a key area for debate throughout the IP EXPO series of events. The research results show that the recent Brexit vote has exacerbated the concern over the available talent pool. For all of our exhibitors at this year’s IP EXPO Europe, having access to top IT talent is critical for the evolution and success of their businesses. This year, we’re working with a number of companies, including HPE, to further the discussion on what can be done to address the skills gap, boost STEM skills in the UK and future proof the UK IT industry.”


Respondents identified cyber security (27%) and coding (27%) as the STEM skills they believed would be most in-demand in the future, with AI coming in at 15%. Interestingly DevOps skills came in at just 4% and despite 22% identifying big data and data analytics as a major technology trend for 2017, only 9% thought that these skills would be in demand in the future. 


It’s not simply a lack of skilled individuals which is cause for this ongoing STEM problem, 41% of ITDMs believe that today’s graduates are lacking in not only baseline experience, such as apprenticeships and work-study, but also (34%) that they arrive with obsolete knowledge and that the school curricula is failing to keep up with technology used in the enterprise. This is resulting in 30% of respondents claiming that that graduates just aren’t technically minded enough. Organisations are clearly attempting to plug the gaps, with 53% of ITDMs spending between 4-10 hours on training each of their young employees.



Marc Waters, Managing Director of Hewlett Packard Enterprise in the UK and Ireland: “With the UK facing an ever-growing digital skills gap, Hewlett Packard Enterprise recognises the role that the government and the industry have to play in inspiring and educating our youth on technology. This is why we are committed to play our part through our traineeship programs in-house, but also through supporting initiatives such as TechFutureGirls, that aim to encourage more girls to develop their digital skills and consider further education or a career in technology”.


Eddy Pauwels, SVP Sales & Marketing at Clarive: “I believe over the years Europe has been following the American/specialisation model too heavily. It would be better to ensure the STEM skills contain enough level of abstraction and broad scope in such a way that students are able to easily make the translation from something they know to something new. Too much specialisation leads to silo mentality which has a negative influence on collaboration/coordination and, in the end, customer satisfaction and quality.”


Michael Hack, SVP of EMEA Operations at Ipswitch: “A recent survey that Ipswitch conducted provides some insight into a why there might be cause for concern about STEM skills for both the current IT workforce and the next generation. Survey results found that two thirds of IT professionals felt that an increasingly complex IT infrastructure was making it more difficult to do their jobs. The results also highlighted concerns about losing control of their company’s IT environment in the face of the new technologies, devices and compliance requirements. These findings potentially point to a need for more education amongst IT professionals, both those currently in the field and those entering IT, in order to help them keep up with the fast-paced changes in IT systems, laws and technologies. However, the research also highlights a need for companies to equip their employees with IT solutions that help enhance their skills and conquer the increasingly complex world of IT.”


Ojas Rege, Chief Strategy Officer at MobileIron: “If the battle for engineering talent in the technology sector is any indicator, there is a shortage of STEM skills, especially for emerging technologies such as mobile and cloud. But technical skills are only the tip of the iceberg. Entrepreneurial thinking, curiosity, and enthusiasm for innovation are what will ultimately determine whether we as an industry can solve the big, persistent challenges facing the UK and the world. Growing these skill sets starts by rethinking engagement and how problem solving is taught in the classroom. Traditional methods of teaching rote memorisation doesn’t instill curiosity and problem solving, but rather how to remember facts. There is an opportunity to flip education on its head by having students spend their "homework hours" studying and their “classroom hours” engaging with students, getting coaching, and working through how to solve problems together.”


To register for IP EXPO Europe 2016 (5th – 6th October, Excel London) for free please visit where you can also find additional information about this year’s keynote and seminar sessions, including speaking times. Find us on Twitter and join the discussion using #IPEXPO.


Note to editors:

This survey was conducted online by Redshift Research in July 2016 on behalf of IP EXPO Europe, and surveyed 500 IT departments within businesses across the UK.

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Gemma Smith / Vicky Muxlow                                                                             

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