Tech employers claim Gen Z lack core technical skills


Almost half of businesses looking for tech talent claim that candidates lack core technical skills for entry-level jobs despite holding a relevant degree, and 26% believe that candidates lack soft skills.

Wiley Edge’s annual Diversity in tech report found that 42% of businesses think that there are not enough candidates with the right formal qualifications to fill tech positions, and 43% think the same of underrepresented groups.

This might explain the difficulty that a lot of Gen Z graduates – those born between 1996 and 2010 – might have with finding a job. The report found that 54% of Gen Z professionals took between four and nine months to secure their first role, and 62% of Gen Z said securing their first role in tech was harder than they expected.

“Our research has highlighted a clear disconnect between university education and the workplace, and this is a skills gap that needs to be bridged with extra training,” said Becs Roycroft, vice-president of global emerging talent and client operations at Wiley Edge.

“Many businesses think graduates are not equipped with the right skills to thrive in the workplace directly after university, yet there still seems to be a preference for top universities and degrees in general when filling tech roles.”

In the past, computer science graduates have been among the most unemployed directly after university, with many organisations claiming they don’t have the skills needed to walk straight into a role. 

But the report found that there is also a hiring bias within the tech industry, which may end up ruling out workers with the correct skills but the wrong credentials. 

The report found that 27% of businesses exclusively hire from top universities, and 44% are more likely to do so. Similarly, half of the businesses said that a bachelor’s degree is required to fill in roles.

According to the BBC, Oxbridge and Russell Group universities struggle to recruit students from underrepresented backgrounds, meaning businesses prioritising graduates from these universities may be missing out on recruiting diverse talent.

Not considering graduates because of their degree (or lack thereof) or their socio-economic background leads to a lack of diversity in the tech industry, shows the report, with 64 % of the businesses surveyed saying they struggle to retain diverse tech talent.

Roycroft said: “Strictly prioritising a pool of university graduates or even narrower pools of top-educated graduates means many who are not able to access university or face blockades when applying for Russell Group institutions are missing out on chances to start their tech careers.”

But some businesses place less emphasis on university education than others: 48% said a degree is required “sometimes”, 3% reported that they never require a degree, and just 4% consider all types of higher education qualifications.

In addition, the report shows that 96% of the businesses using an anti-bias hiring strategy have seen a positive impact on their workforce diversity.

“It is heartening that some businesses are already turning the tide and are widening their entry criteria to include alternative qualifications and other skills to improve diversity, and I hope this trend will continue over the years to come,” said Roycroft.


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