In 2011, 20 000 university graduates from the UK alone were still unemployed six months after graduation. It seems that universities are not equipping students with the skills to enter the labour market that is increasingly technology-dominated. Employers are far more likely to ignore students' certificates and look more closely at other skills acquired outside traditional schooling. Unless an individual learns these sought-after skills such as programming, they will seriously struggle to launch successful careers in industries.
There is clearly a missing link between education, careers and employability. Thousands of highly educated young people are leaving university every year desperate to find work and build lasting careers yet are unable to do so. Are we teaching our young people the wrong subjects to set themselves up in an economic climate that is already so heavily reliant on information and communication technology (ICT)? It appears to be the case. So what is this missing link? And who is working to build that bridge between education and employment to ensure all of this talent does not go to waste?
Fast-track ICT educators (edtech) such as career accelerators and coding boot camps offer one solution to filling the ICT skills gap. They go right to the heart of the problem of preparing students for work in the real world with an intensity and dedication that further education colleges and other vocational training institutes have lacked. These accelerators choose candidates hungry for success, and in a short period of time, by immersing students in the subject, they bring them up to speed, preparing them for an ICT career.
Often schools or boot camps expose students to potential employers at an early stage, with some even offering introductions to employers directly via open days or trial interviews. For their part, employers are queueing up to hire talented young people fresh out of school with the right skills to place them in creative, fast-paced, high-salaried jobs. Boot camps and accelerators are a real threat to university education.
There is, however, a downside. Although career accelerators are by far the most specialised in terms of ICT skills, they are only available offline, which is ironic considering the subjects they teach. These offline boot camps are very expensive, full-time and location-specific, which excludes vast portions of the population who either do not have the money, time or right location to take advantage of them. However, a host of smart online options are popping up on the Internet to address this need for learning ICT skills online.
By learning online, with immersive free and paid boot camps such as CareerFoundry, Code Academy and Bloc, students learn the same skills they would in offline but with flexible learning timetables that fit around their work and lives while still receiving the same specialised, immersive, mentor-driven training as an offline boot camp. By learning ICT skills online students can save money, hold down a full-time job or take care of a family and get added support from student advisors and mentors as and when they need them. If this trend continues, there will no longer be a need for offline training boot camps for ICT skills, as more affordable and flexible options become available to students online at their leisure.
Universities need to wake up to the changing face of business and begin to see educational technology (edtech) start-ups as a real threat to the current status quo. With so many industries looking for people with the right ICT skills, more and more on- and offline boot camps are beginning to take over where higher education has failed. With flexible, online learning now easily accessible for ICT subjects, students can learn from home instead of attending costly offline boot camps or computer science degrees at university.
If policy-makers do not start to make changes to higher education soon, edtech start-ups and savvy entrepreneurs will soon be coming to the rescue of Europe's young people and teaching them the skills they need to launch great ICT careers.
What's the missing link for Europe's young, educated and unemployed? (original article)