Routes into STEM – Could apprenticeships solve the tech talent crunch?

Routes into STEM – Could apprenticeships solve the tech talent crunch?

There’s an acute shortage of candidates for tech jobs – in fact, research suggests tens of millions of potential roles are going unfilled. In a poll with global technology chiefs conducted by MIT’s ‘Technology Review’, a majority found that they weren’t getting enough candidates for roles, and those who did apply lacked necessary skills. 

Clearly, there’s a problem here. So what can tech companies do to bring more talent through the door? Could building a baseline of investment in new, or even unqualified, talent be a solution?

Maninder Randhawa believes so. He’s the Early Careers Leader for Hewlett Packard Enterprise in the UKIMEA region, and spends his time building programmes to upskill the organizations new talent. He believes that, whilst there’s absolutely a place for old hands, the fresh ideas and ability to adapt and mould that new talent brings makes them more than worth the investment.

A case in point is Stu Franks of Alces flight, an HPC services provider. He began at the firm at age 18 as a school leaver, and now heads a team building and marketing services and solutions. He believes apprenticeships, like his own, offer a route to great talent that’s not suited to academia but has all the practical talent and intelligence needed to excel in the field, and values demonstrable skills, personality and attitude above degrees and certificates.

In order to attract young people into the STEM fields, though, they need to know about it. That’s where outreach groups like Stemettes come in. They are a UK-based organization dedicated to reaching out to underrepresented groups in schools across the country, with programs to engage young people in STEM careers as an option, and provide mentoring and support for them to take their first steps. Floriane Fidegnon got into tech through the work of the group and now sits on the board, something her employer encourages as it creates a virtuous cycle of bringing in new talent, and encouraging existing talent like Floriane to become engaged ambassadors for the field.

But what about the kind of soft skills that come with a degree – just not one in STEM topics? Erin Young is a case in point. She’s a lead researcher for the Alan Turing Institute, which is dedicated to solving societal problems with technology. She came into the field from a background in classics, where her skills in research, reasoning and analytics, combined with a love of data analytics, made a move into tech a great – if seemingly disconnected – jump. 

Sources cited in this episode:

MIT Technology Review poll with tech leaders on talent shortages:

STEM apprenticeships in the UK increased by over a quarter in the last decade:

UK government report into diversity and inclusion in STEM:


Hewlett Packard Enterprise