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Mortimer Spinks Annual Technology Event 2017

Events, Technology

Annual tech Event 2017

Thursday 27th April 2017 marked the release of the annual Tech Survey by Mortimer Spinks in association with Computer Weekly. The sixth survey in the series was unveiled at the prestigious Ham Yard Hotel in Soho.

If would like to find out more about upcoming events with Mortimer Spinks or download our latest survey, visit our website at www.mortimerspinks.com.

The theme of this year's event was digital disruption in the UK workforce, specifically analysing the skills shortage, of which the importance cannot be underestimated considering how rapidly technology is evolving. For example, there are roles that exist today which 10 years ago no one had even heard of, such as an app developer or social media manager.

The event was split into four parts;

1. Four key industry speakers showcasing 'Inspiring New UK Tech'.

The first speaker was Ed Connolly from OVO Energy who discussed the importance of businesses being technologically aware. He highlighted that companies such as: Boarders, Blockbuster and Blackberry all lacked the speed and adaptability to remain in the marketplace. Additionally, he advised that companies should build their teams around business values.

The second speaker, Faye Pressly, COO of Vanti, gave a presentation on how her organisation integrates technology into the foundations of the offices and buildings they design. One example of this was the UBM building Vanti helped to deliver. Vanti utilises technology to combat efficient use of desk space and meeting rooms as well as unnecessary use of energy. As a result, they have delivered offices which use 33% less energy. Additionally, they have created a logistical system which gets the most out of its meeting rooms which in return have made an annual saving of one million pounds.

The final speakers were Tim Ip and Robert Belcher who are both analytics consultants for PA Consulting. They gave a presentation on analysing social media to gain an insight into a particular audience and how this can be beneficial for organisations and businesses.

2. Key findings from the survey and the launch of its new website with facts, tips and advice for businesses, employees, students and parents on closing the skills gap.

Paul Church, Director of Mortimer Spinks, gave a presentation on the key findings from the Technology Survey. Some of the key findings from this year's survey included:

  • 7% of business leaders said that technical skills were more important than soft skills.
  • 57% of business leaders would hire somebody without technical background.
  • 55% of business leaders said that some sort of education in technology was important.
  • 67% of non-technology/digital workers would consider a job in technology.

The research also showed that technology/digital workers take home an average salary of £56k whilst non-technology/digital workers received £39k.

3. Four panel speakers discussing 'How to Close the UK Technology and Digital skills gap'.

Bryan Glick from Computer Weekly hosted the third segment of the evening, a panel discussion. Panel members included: Roselyn Cason-Marcus (McKinsey & Company), Andrew Harmel-Law (Capgemini), Abigail Rappoport (Emoquo), Thierry Bedos (Hotels.com) and Catherine Knivett (Digital Skills City Hall).

The first question went to Thierry which asked:

"Mortimer Spinks' research shows that 76% of non-technology workers would consider a career in technology. How do we make them switch?"

Thierry put doubt on the result suggesting that not all participants truly would consider a career in technology. Although, he proposed that one possible solution is cross-training and apprenticeships. Furthermore, he specified a need for investment in this area especially in short intensive courses which last up to six to eight weeks. He also spoke about the benefits of taking on employees from a non-tech background stating "non-tech people bring a different angle to a problem". Finally, he thought that if movies depicted the IT profession in a different light then this would encourage younger people to consider a career in technology.

Andrew Harmel-Law was asked:

"We hear a lot about the focus on education, apprenticeships etc to help address skills gaps, but it's mentioned much less often that corporate training budgets have seen huge decreases. How must attitudes to training change?"

Andrew started by mentioning how lucky his team are as Capgemini was able to protect their training budget. He also discussed the benefits that conferences had on his team as an alternative to courses. From his experiences, conferences can be just as beneficial if not more so. Finally, he advised on being selective on what training to undertake. Roselyn added to the answer by recommending that companies embrace "organic virtual learning" for example, using a smart phone as the "facilitator for learning". Finally, there was a consensus that learning should be followed up after the course to ensure that it is embedded into the memory of participants.

The third question, directed at Roselyn Cason-Marcus, asked:

"IT is not a diverse industry. It fails to reflect the society it serves. Tackling this could help bring many more people into the sector - but only 16% of IT workers are female, a figure that has fallen in the last 10 years. What are we still doing wrong?"

Roselyn reasoned that to include women in technology then we as a collective must confront the problems which prevent women from having a career within the industry such as: being a carer for children or other dependants. "What are the main reasons currently taking women out of [IT] and then address [these problems], not just talk about it but actually address it". She suggested that companies must provide a system which can allow women to effectively manage work and personal responsibilities.

Thierry Bedos added to the debate by stating that attention must be paid to unconscious bias. For example, research has shown that job specifications and interviews can be unconsciously bias towards men. He suggests further education on this matter will have the desired effects of attracting more women to the IT industry.

Catherine Knivett was asked:

"The apprenticeship levy launched this month. How can we get businesses to
be more engaged with creating opportunities in tech for young people?"

Roselyn responded by saying: "this is a massive opportunity at the moment as corporations are adding to the levy". She argued that the benefits of this are that, "young people can come in and change the dynamic of an organisation for the better". Catherine did, however, highlight that the process can be complicated and that work must be put into helping small businesses to understand the process. She went on to say that in her department at Digital Skills City Hall have taken on three brilliant apprentices. 

Andrew Harmel-Law added that Capgemini enjoy teaching juniors and miss it when the opportunity is no longer there.

The final question went to Abigail Rappoport:
 

"How can we support people - both in IT and outside, and in boardrooms - to
help develop and have confidence in tech skills, especially as we see more
automation in the workforce?"

Abigail stated, "we tend to find trust is at an all time low, which is quite scary". She suggested as digital tools continue to grow, employees are more inclined to tell an app rather than a person. She suggested the first step to combating the problem is to "realise there are more distractions than ever" and talking about the big themes so change can begin. She concluded by saying that "little things like interrupting can contribute to disengagement which means people do not feel heard".

4. Audience Q&A

"What makes people think technology is moving too fast?"

Thierry Bedos answered by stating "I don't think it is moving too fast but I love that! I think we should welcome that. The UK has a huge number of start ups which will one day take over and become valuable on the stock market. I am really looking forward to the UK leading that trend, exciting times!" Roselyn Cason-Marcus added to the discussion by stating "if we think of everything [technology] hasn't solved then it hasn't moved too fast. Can we actually create a better world than the one we are in now? [A world] which isn't just about becoming billionaires but making a
difference".

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