Insufficient IT Education Hindering Youth from Pursuing Tech Careers


A new report from BAE Systems Digital Intelligence examines perceived obstacles to pursuing tech careers in the UK, shedding light on how the industry can enhance efforts to attract a more diverse talent pool.

According to research conducted by BAE Systems’ Digital Intelligence business, nearly half (42%) of the British public believes that a lack of Information Technology (IT) and tech education during primary and secondary school has hindered the possibility of pursuing a career in tech.

The study, titled “Driving Digital Diversity,” surveyed over 2,000 individuals across the UK, including those both within and outside the tech and cybersecurity sectors, to investigate the perceived barriers discouraging individuals from entering the field. Participants represented diverse demographics in terms of age, gender, neurodiversity, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity.

The report identified five key factors that respondents believe dissuade students from pursuing careers in the sector:

Theresa Palmer, Global Head of DE&I at BAE Systems’ Digital Intelligence business, commented:

– The assumption that a tech or IT-focused degree is necessary (49%)

– Inadequate tech or IT education during primary and secondary school (42%)

– Lack of promotion of tech as an appealing or exciting career path in schools (41%)

– Financial barriers associated with obtaining a tech or IT education (29%)

– Limited understanding about available opportunities in the field (29%)

“It is evident that respondents’ early years significantly influence their perceptions of tech careers. There is a misconception that a degree in IT is a prerequisite for entering the industry, despite many tech roles not requiring a degree-level qualification.

“This misconception begins in school, where more proactive measures are needed to promote tech careers as attractive options accessible to all. The industry itself has a significant role to play in this regard, by better showcasing alternative pathways into tech and emphasizing transferable skills and interpersonal abilities in job applications.”

According to the study, placing a stronger emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) could play a significant role in attracting more individuals to pursue careers in the tech industry and addressing the current skills gap, which is believed to cost the digital economy £63 billion annually.

Three-quarters (73%) of respondents expressed that the IT industry should take more proactive measures to encourage job applicants from diverse backgrounds. This sentiment was even more pronounced among those working in the tech sector, with 83% of respondents in tech roles and 90% of cybersecurity professionals polled sharing this view.

“Businesses with a diverse and inclusive workforce tend to perform better, fostering a variety of ideas, approaches, and skill sets. The benefits are numerous, including enhanced morale, improved problem-solving capabilities, bridging skills gaps, and better financial outcomes. Therefore, addressing the persisting lack of significant progress in DE&I is an urgent matter and should be treated like any other business challenge.

“Only by collaborating closely with the broader tech ecosystem, including government, the education sector, and specialized social enterprises like InnovateHer, can we effectively tackle perceived barriers.”

“Collaboration is vital for crafting curricula that are more impactful, spearheading location-specific initiatives, and providing a wider array of opportunities to individuals from a young age.”

BAE Systems has maintained consistent partnerships with InnovateHer, a social enterprise based in the North West, focused on inspiring more girls and non-binary students aged 13-16 to explore careers in STEM fields.

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