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October 2, 2019updated 04 Oct 2019 11:40am

Tech education more important than science and maths: Business leaders

By Lucy Ingham

The majority of UK businesses now consider an education in tech to be of greater importance than science and maths, with specialisms in the field now being seen as a vital factor in hiring decisions.

This is according to research by CWJobs, which found that 68% of UK businesses believe tech education in areas such as coding is of greater value than a demonstrable education in science and maths.

Notably, this value does not just lie in jobs with a technological focus. 80% of business leaders surveyed said that having a specialism in technology was a key factor in hiring decisions for any role – not just those in IT, programming or data science departments.

A lack of tech education also appears to be causing some to lose out on jobs. 63% said that a candidate with tech skills would be hired over one without.

This is not necessarily because of current skills needs within such companies, but a perceived need to future-proof: 64% said they would make such a decision due to the candidate’s ability to train others, while 62% said it would allow business leaders the opportunity to learn.

The most in-demand areas of tech education

While any form of tech education appears to be giving candidates and advantage over their non-techy counterparts, there are some skills that are more highly prized by employers than others.

Cybersecurity is considered the most valuable skill – and no surprise, given the number of different threats businesses now face – with 79% across all sectors citing this as a preferred skill.

This was closely followed by data analytics and business intelligence, both at 76%.

While skill demand is relatively similar across the UK, there is some regional variation. In Birmingham, coding is considered vital by 54% of organisations, while in London skills in the internet of things (IoT) is important to 73% of organisations.

The tech skills “crisis”

While businesses want their employees to have a high level of tech education, the reality of the workforce does not match up.

In part this is due to different educational priorities even just a decade ago, but businesses are also concerned that the level of tech education currently being provided in schools remains inadequate.

53% of business leaders believe current tech education is not high enough, with 86% saying they would be willing to partner with a school or college to improve the situation.

“The UK is facing a skills crisis and those with tech specialisms on their CV are being sought after by all companies, now more than ever,” said Dominic Harvey, director at CWJobs.

“In order to plug that gap, businesses are calling for tech to be given more of a prominence in the school curriculum. What’s clear is that learning a tech skill isn’t just something that’s relevant for one role or one industry, but the entire UK workforce needs to be embracing it if the country is to remain competitive on the world stage.”

Read more: Could selective education help the UK fill the digital skills gap?

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