The fight to close the technology skills gap
Sarah Howarth - 09 Mehefin 2016

This month Method4 joined forces with ESTnet, Sony, Yard and IQE in an attempt to tackle the skills gap in the technology sector.

While technology is developing at an unprecedented speed, changing the way we live and work at an astounding rate, skills development is trailing further and further behind. According to the European Commission there could be up to 825,000 unfilled vacancies across Europe by 2020. Unfortunately this widening gap cannot only be attributed to the development of new digital opportunities. An Empirica working paper from November 2015 found that the number of computer science graduates has been in decline across Europe since 2006. Most worryingly it is the United Kingdom that has seen the most dramatic decline, with current figures down 37% on 2003.

ESTnet Next Generation has been working to curb this trend over the last few years. When we heard they were aiming to build a stand for Digital 2016 to encourage young people into technology, we were more than happy to help.

Digital 2016 is a technology conference and exhibition open to 2000 delegates, this year held at the five star Celtic Manor Resort. Importantly they also opened their doors to trips of schoolchildren, some with and some without an existing interest in technology. Between us we wanted to showcase the interesting and diverse opportunities on offer to those who choose to study science and technology.

The preconception of some is that being a software developer is all about being locked away in a dark room typing out endless lines of incomprehensible code. The reality is very different and this was an opportunity to sway the opinions of young individuals who will soon need to make the choice if they are going to continue studying science and technology at GCSE, A-level or university. Method4’s section of the stand showcased software built using Microsoft’s Project Oxford facial recognition technology. The fun element of trying to emulate human emotions for our webcam, which the software rates in terms of happiness, surprise and anger (amongst others), certainly entertained the crowds. Hopefully it also inspired someone who may not have considered a career in software development to consider it as an interesting and rewarding career choice.