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Digital skillsSupport into work

Which industries are growing and how can we bring everyone in on these opportunities?

A man, wearing a high-vis jacket and holding a clipboard, smiles at the camera. In the background, warehouse shelving can be seen.

One in three 18 to 24 year olds are currently furloughed or have recently lost their job. From July 2020 to September this year, the unemployment rate for young people increased from 11.8% to 14.6%. This means we have 602,000 young people across the UK without any form of employment.

The current market

These job losses affect those furthest from work first – those who are likely already facing health inequalities – whether it’s because of where they live, how they live, or other socioeconomic factors. So, if there is no intervention, we will see the impact of these numbers on both careers and health for the foreseeable future.
The current market

In usual pre-COVID times, Indeed.com expects 500,000 new jobs to be added to its website every month. But from mid-March 2020, job postings dropped by up to 60% compared to the same time last year. Industries requiring face-to-face service were hit hardest, such as hospitality and tourism, with job postings down by up to 80%.

The health and social care sector, for obvious reasons, saw more openings. But other sectors also remain strong, particularly across distribution, construction and technology – as we see an acceleration of the existing trend towards online retail. Digital skills are more crucial now than ever, and as future opportunities open up, the demand for these skills will grow – the challenge now is to ensure tomorrow’s labour market are skilled, prepared and aware of these opportunities.

Partnerships for resilience

Catch22 is focused on helping people with barriers to work find access to sustainable jobs; we are aiming to support 20,000 people in the next three years. To do this, collaboration and partnerships across sectors, particularly in growing industries, is crucial.

Lewis Bennett is one of the participants of the Grid for Good programme, a partnership designed to use the networks of National Grid to connect with the hard to reach individuals Catch22 supports. As well as one-to-one careers support, Lewis attends workshops that develop his communications and teamwork skills, and others which focus on his CV-writing, interview skills, and building a personal profile.

He says that before Grid for Good, “No-one really sat through, apart from my parents, to work on my CV.” And he adds that his resilience has improved though the Grid for Good collaboration. “You’ve got to put yourself out there and keep trying,” he says.

Lewis is one of hundreds of young people Catch22 is currently supporting to ensure a sustainable future career.

Digital jobs exist in every sector

Microsoft’s Sarah Foxall emphasises that jobs in the tech sector, ‘digital jobs’, must be treated as an occupation in and of themselves, as these digital jobs exist in every sector – including those who have struggled in 2020. Microsoft’s recent analysis of LinkedIn data estimates that there will be up to three million tech jobs in the UK by 2025, particularly in software development, data analysis and cyber security.

Microsoft wants to help 1.5 million people build digital careers and connect 300,000 people to these roles within the next five years. To make it happen, they work with government and with organisations like Catch22, to develop pre-employability and digital skills programmes like Digital Edge. She says: “There is robust opportunity going forward,” and now is the opportunity for employers to look outside their traditional pool for new talent.

Looking beyond the big names

The construction industry has transitioned to social distancing and working from home. Sheryl Moore, Group Sustainability Manager at Kier, says that as people continue to work from home there are greater opportunities for the growth in technology, as well as the opportunity to grow skills amongst the new and existing workforce. Kier recognises the need for increased digitisation and the opportunities and positive impact this will have on the next generation of its workforce.

In construction, there are over 2,000 types of roles, many unknown to the general population – like design managers and business development – that are flexible and bring great future opportunities. She highlights that by working with schools to build awareness of the construction industry and the opportunities it brings, will show the breadth of opportunities available.

A spark for talent

National Grid are optimistic about the future, says Dina Potter, Vice President in Global Social Impact. “The UK still needs to recruit hundreds of thousands into this sector.”

But the challenge right now is that the perceptions of the industry are not appealing to young people, meaning employers fiercely search for talent. Last year, more than 40% of UK physics graduates, a key target for the industry, chose careers in banking, finance and technology. Today’s graduates will now be facing a tougher job market, so this is an opportunity to drive them into the energy sector jobs. National Grid’s research shows their industry must recruit 400,000 roles by 2050 including engineers, data analysts and machine learning experts along with new roles we don’t even yet have a name for. To do this, education and opportunities for everyone must be opened.

Dina adds, “To achieve these goals, the sector needs to put diversity and inclusion at the heart of our recruitment strategies.”

Grid for Good works with nine charity partnerships across the UK and abroad. Over the next ten years, they aim to help 22,000 people from disadvantaged backgrounds thrive despite these exceptional times.

Growing industries can help in this economic recovery. The response from these thriving employers will impact the health and the wealth of today’s generations for years to come.