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Technical education: shaping the workforce for the better
Thu, 28th Mar 2024

Business needs are constantly evolving, especially in the digital space. It’s important to be on top of the latest technologies, and for this, we need a workforce with the skills to do so. We are seeing a skills shortage across the digital sector, which can be problematic in an industry that’s constantly growing and evolving. 

At N3i, our goal is to deliver high-quality, responsive IT support and digital services to the NHS and other health and care providers. We offer value for money to the public sector and remove the inconvenience of multiple suppliers for IT digital services. But, to fulfil this service, it is vital our business has access to the very best talent, which is why we are recruiting a new generation into the industry through T Level students. I am delighted to become the 500th ambassador in the T Level Ambassador Network, bringing together dedicated employers and advocating for the benefits of technical education in the business community to help combat the skills shortage crisis.

Skills shortages vs the ever-important tech sector

The skills shortage within the tech industry has many causes. SMEs, in particular, are impacted by the high demand and competition from larger businesses, which are able to offer enticing benefits. We are also up against the impact of an ageing workforce. Many skilled workers will be considering retirement soon, and future-proofing is a real concern for many. 

In an increasingly digital world, the importance of cybersecurity and data privacy is of the upmost importance. The challenge of securing talent with the skills needed is felt more widely than in the tech industry, as there is a knock-on effect on other businesses that need tech support, too. Business, on the whole, needs people with skills to implement security protocols and adhere to changing privacy regulations. This is crucial to safeguard sensitive information, which is of huge importance, not just to us as a business but also to our clients.

Using T Levels to recruit new talent

T Levels are a qualification introduced in 2020 by the Department for Education in collaboration with employers and businesses. One T Level is equivalent in size to three A Levels, and learners aged 16-18 complete the two-year course after their GCSEs.

Crucially though, as well as learning important skills through classroom-based working, T Levels offer students a deeper insight and understanding into various careers, as courses are designed with employers and there is a 45-day industry placement component. 80% of students’ time is spent in college learning industry-specific skills and knowledge, and 20% is spent on the job, a more hands-on experience putting the skills and knowledge they learn into practice. 

The Skills for Life campaign recently released the Skills Horizon Barometer, which found that 64% of SMEs in England are deploying low-cost recruitment tactics to invest in talent in light of financial challenges. This shows that employers are eager to find new, cost-efficient routes into recruitment and are perhaps open to new strategies they may not have considered before. 

At N3i, we’ve noticed the benefits of hosting T-level students. For instance, we are given the opportunity to show them exactly what they will be doing in their careers. We can shape the skills we teach them to reflect how the theory applies to the job, and it is also a great opportunity to upskill our existing employees through knowledge sharing. The students have the opportunity to get a feel for the career they’re interested in and the industry as a whole with first-hand experience. 

Looking ahead

As an employer, it’s important to attract new talent to help bridge the gap between skills shortages and encourage a new generation into the sector, which brings new thinking. T-Levels can play a crucial part in this. 

By offering students an opportunity to fulfil their industry placement within your business, you’re attracting new talent and young people who may come work for you in the future. This will encourage other passionate individuals to join the business, too. This will help to future-proof against skills gaps within the business and move your business forward.