I had no concrete career aspirations when I was at school and after university I fell, almost by accident, into a role at a computer games company; a move that happily made the technology industry my professional home.
It’s no easier for young people today trying to make career decisions. In fact, the rise of digital and the rapid rate of technological change continue to transform the jobs market at pace. Research tells us that 65% of children entering primary school today will take up jobs that don’t exist yet – how can they possibly know what career to aim for?
It’s an issue that needs a solution, inevitably with a digital slant because of the times in which we live: 82% of advertised roles require digital skills. Even more importantly, young people need to be aware of and empowered by the opportunities open to them, and not overwhelmed by the technical skill they assume may be required. Once inspired, they need access to the steps that will help them realise their career aspirations.
This is something we’re trying to help with at Nominet. The focus of our public benefit programme is to tackle the digital issues facing young people today and improve a million lives a year through our outreach. One element of this is a new podcast series, THIS IS HOW, that we have launched in partnership with Livity, to provide first-hand insight into the varied digital careers available in creative industries from the people actually doing them today.
The choice of medium was led by the research. Recent Ofcom figures show that the number of weekly podcast listeners has almost doubled in five years in the UK, with 15-24 year olds having the steepest growth of all demographics. One in five of them now listen to podcasts every week – and we want THIS IS HOW to be on their playlist.
Each episode features a professional in conversation with our hosts, writer Bwalya Newton and brand consultant Alex Powis. With guests including a data analyst for ITV’s Love Island, a lead animator from Framestore and a software engineer from Buzzfeed, each podcast provides fascinating insights into what each role entails, how they secured them and which skills help them in their daily work. No matter your age or stage in life, it’s an interesting half hour and can be revelatory in terms of the unpredictable paths people take into a role they love.
Like Jessica White, who couldn’t achieve her dream to be an air stewardess due to her height but now loves her work as a social media manager. Or Marion Strunck, who turned a childhood obsession with comics into a job as an animator, working on films such as Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
Importantly, the THIS IS HOW experience doesn’t end with the podcast. We are sign-posting to a series of relevant resources to help young people take the next steps, whether sharing one-off learning materials, short and mid-term courses, networks to join, or live employment opportunities for those ready to jump right in. We want to make sure that once inspiration has been kindled, listeners can access the tools and opportunities to help them identify how to make these jobs a reality for themselves. This his is just the kind of thing I would’ve loved in my late teens when I was moving from education and into the world of work. It’s also meeting a wider economic need as the demand for employees with digital skills skyrockets while pipelines remain sluggish. The UK economy could lose as much as £141.5bn of GDP growth if we don’t narrow the skills gap and ensure that those emerging into the jobs market have the necessary skills for – and interest in – the plethora of digital roles available.
So, if you know a young person faced with some decision making, why not point them in the direction of THIS IS HOW? It could be an ideal way to learn about real careers and direct their enthusiasm towards acquiring the skills required to achieve them.
Who knew that to be an animator you don’t need to be an artist? Or that you can get into design by creating skins on Bebo? These podcasts break down many assumptions and give great insight into the interesting ways in which technology and digital capabilities are being used across all manner of organisations, each playing a part to create our digital future.