case study:  Project activities to develop a new source of technical talent for the industry, delivered by Software Cornwall

Overview of the project

Software Cornwall represents one of the fastest growing tech clusters in the UK and connects, promotes, represents and supports Cornwall’s digital tech community.

Software Cornwall has developed its project activities to develop a new source of technical talent for the industry.

Sector Priorities & Regional Drivers

Like all regions across the UK, the Covid-19 pandemic and exit from the EU has fundamentally changed the skills landscape. Skills gaps and skills shortages are evident across the software industry, with many local employers struggling to attract, recruit and retain people with the right skills.

It is widely recognised that there are not enough skilled professionals to meet the current or the growing future demand of local businesses and industry in this key growth sector.

Employers report recruiting difficulties as a key constraint in their development and growth and this, alongside the Covid-19 pandemic has created numerous challenges for businesses, individuals and communities.

It is crucial to work with businesses of all sizes to ensure the right future talent can be found and to offer every young person the opportunity to explore their options and educational system choices to succeed in the world of work in this sector. This, alongside creating opportunities for individuals to upskill or acquire new skill sets in the digital sector has the potential for wide ranging positive impact.
The development of new sources of talent is based on current and future need and to close skills gaps and skills shortages by matching and developing a skilled supply of people to meet the business demand.

Project Delivery

What need was identified?
The recent Covid-19 pandemic highlighted that not everyone was content with their job or career – the pandemic allowed workers to rethink their careers, work conditions, and long-term goals with many people making life decisions that things could be different and/or better.

Post pandemic there is a shortfall of highly skilled workers and an oversupply of people with traditionally intermediate or low skills.

A new supply of talent for this sector is urgently needed to meet current and future demand in the region.

How did the project fulfil these needs?
By upskilling individuals with work life knowledge, work skills and an ability to learn and to provide them with access to directed learning and networking opportunities to be one source of talent.

By utilising the network of software companies in the Software Cornwall digital tech community, Software Cornwall have been developing the program of required learning, tests and skills as directed by industry itself.

By utilising very generalised social media campaigns to reach cohorts of the Cornish population that does not interact with technology particularly to source those individuals who might be interested in a change of career.

What was delivered?
Software Cornwall’s digital tech community joined the project to help identify and provide the knowledge of which skills new personnel entering training/the sector would need to have. By crowdsourcing and undertaking knowledge share with different stakeholders, an overall picture of both essential and desirable skills needed was built up.

These companies were then invited to attend days to meet the learners whilst they took part in a software project for the day. The companies could assist the teams and share their experience and knowledge too.
The project was able to support employers interaction with learners at an early stage of their career journey. From this networking several learners have been able to secure positions in companies.

Business Insight, Impact and Feedback

The Business Clusters project has enabled Software Cornwall to identify that it is possible to find talented individuals locally. They have valuable skills learnt from other industries that can be utilised in a new career. By providing access to directed learning it is also possible for individuals to gain new skills that are tuned to the local jobs market. The provision of learner events where networking with businesses can take place, establishes a new network and provides a ‘who you know’ link to the industry. With the Cornish software industry in growth mode, a constant flow of new people is needed and sourcing candidates from the region will help local economy growth both for individuals as well as businesses. The Business Clusters project has helped Software Cornwall develop a model that will be taken forward into 2024 and beyond.

It is also of note that, one very interesting feature identified from the results of the social media posts was the makeup of the applicants. The very first series produced an exact split of 50:50 male to female applicants. Within the software industry a female ratio of 15 – 20% would be considered better than the norm. The campaign had been carefully screened for gender bias but to achieve this level of interest was unexpected. After screening for learning ability, the ratio was generally even better throughout the Business Clusters project.