There's no secret that we rely on a significant number of migrant workers in very important areas. The NHS, construction and technology in particular.
In fact, the government is said to be granting more visas to technology workers in the hope that they will be able to secure access to international talent after the Brexit vote. However, given where technology is taking is, it's never been more important to ensure that domestic talent already in the workforce are adopting a lifelong learning mindset.
Tech City UK, the government organisation that processes applications for special visas has been granted the right to endorse 250 immigration visas, which is 50 more than they’re usually allowed this year.
This has all come about after demand surged for visas following the EU referendum where the tech industry expressed concerns that Brexit would make it harder to hire talented foreign workers.
There are pros and cons to this. On the one hand, it’s assuring to see that the UK tech industry are taking steps to ensure that opportunities are not closed to foreign talent who would thrive over here. However, the UK’s reliability on ensuring foreign workers have access to jobs in the UK is very revealing when it comes to our domestic workforce.
It could be suggested that there’s a lack of supply when it comes to domestic tech workers and that not enough people are venturing into technology jobs to meet the demand the UK has and to satisfy where technology is taking us.
While executives will be expected to increase investment in IT products and services, the underlying issue of an ongoing skills shortage remains.
It’s imperative that we commit to training up prospective workers in the UK. For people already operating within these areas, the idea of upskilling in order to stay competitive within the workforce is something we learnt may not be happening as frequently as we thought. Attending the Save our Adult Education campaign in Parliament earlier this week, it was revealed that a significant number of adults were not engaged with further education and lifelong learning. An estimated 1.3million adults were lost from these courses and training from 2010, which startled us.
During the debate, it was highlighted that there is a belief that further education is seen as a second-class education. The reality is further education and higher education complement each other and work hand in hand.
Graduating doesn’t mean that you will never undertake training again. Lifelong learning has been piped to being placed on the government agenda however it became apparent within the debate that fewer people are accessing their local colleges and training providers because committing to learn clashed with other responsibilities like full time work and family time.
Rather than bring back grammar schools, an emphasis was placed on resurrecting night schools to ensure that people had the option of attending evening classes after work.
Technology is one of those areas that continues to grow year on year. In 2017 it is expected that there will be a demand in a number of roles including network and computer systems, data science, software engineering, information security, computer systems and web development.
A few recurring buzzwords within the sector also includes virtual reality, augmented reality and physical-digital integrations. With site-to-store purchasing already a thing, we can expect this trend to expand with online brands having physical products and physical brands having more digital features.
These advanced developments will nevertheless open opportunities that will need to be filled. Encouraging domestic workers to upskill, progress within their learning and development so that they’re equipped and ready for these jobs will not only have an overall positive effect on their wellbeing, but economically it will propel the UK. Technology is one area that adults tend to stray behind and according to Chief Learning Officer Magazine, adults didn’t feel threatened at being replaced by younger counterparts, it was the rapid pace of change within technology that made them feel anxious.
If we can tackle this by increasing their confidence and understanding within technology then we’ll have a workforce that are prepared for change.