The tech industry is facing a skills gap like never before.
With over 70% of businesses in the sector short of skilled employees, tech companies need to look beyond university graduates and other traditional sources of talent to get the employees they need.
Failing to do so will hold businesses back. It also risks letting a whole generation of talented, diverse workers slip through the net.
One of those talented workers is Jayden Patten.
In his early twenties, Patten was at a loss. Coming from a safe, secure, loving family, he loved IT as a kid. So, when the time came, he started a university course in Computer Studies with the hope of making a career of it.
But after developing a life-changing condition affecting his eyesight, he had to cut those studies short and was forced to leave the campus. Seeing his plans fall apart, he found himself at a low point “A failure,” he told us, “with little direction”. To make ends meet, he got a job working as a customer assistant in a pharmacist.
His parents saw he was unhappy and unchallenged, with little job security and few prospects.
“They knew I wasn’t growing in the direction I was passionate about,” says Patten. “They saw it wouldn’t work out in the long term, and that I needed to make a change.”
Patten credits their support with helping him out of his slump. “Retail gave me great life experiences, but I knew I had to move forward into something I really wanted to do. It was their influence that took me to a job career fair.”
Getting back on track with ServiceNow
Patten’s route back to work accelerated once he met John Perks, principal architect for the NextGen team at ServiceNow. John was instrumental in helping Patten get employed and subsequently enrolled in the ServiceNow Degree Apprenticeship Scheme. The NextGen program gave Patten the purpose he was looking for and a career path in IT.
Aimed at developing the digital, business, and leadership skills needed to succeed in tomorrow’s workplace, the degree apprenticeship with Northeastern University’s London campus is designed to bring immediate value to the sector and assist organisations in upskilling talent for their growing technology needs.
For Patten, it was just the right fit. “Speaking with John, I really liked the sound of the different parts of the ServiceNow platform, and was particularly interested in the programming side,” he said. “While the original course I signed up for stalled and moved online due to Covid, I kept in touch with John, who gave me regular guidance and exercises to complete. Ultimately, it’s through John that I got access to the network of ServiceNow partners, and secured a position with Methods.”
Methods is a ServiceNow Premier Partner and one of the UK’s leading independent transformation partners for public services. Methods works closely with citizens and with public, private, and third sector organisations to modernise UK public services.
Trudy Beharry leads the ServiceNow practice and is head of service management capability at the business. As part of her role, she’s witnessed the brain drain in the tech space first-hand, and understands the need to hire talent differently.
“The numbers of people coming into this industry – and the skills that they have – are diminishing,” she said. “To fill that gap, we’re striving to garner and develop talent through different sources, in line with Methods’ ongoing commitment and social responsibility to support and grow emerging talent.”
That’s why Methods decided to take part in ServiceNow’s Degree Apprenticeship program, which is how they met Patten.
“Patten was a very, very good candidate to be our first recruit onto the degree apprenticeship scheme,” Beharry said. “He was pretty quiet and shy when he joined us, and less familiar with some of the products we use, but he was extremely talented from day one. He’s picked up so much in just a few months and has become a credit to himself and a credit to our organisation.”
Within just a few months into hiring Patten, he is already productive, and about to start his first customer engagement. Methods is already looking to see if they can add another candidate to the next degree apprenticeship cohort starting in January 2021.
A fresh new perspective
Patten is really positive about what he brings to his new role. “I’ve got a fresh perspective, a lot of new ideas, and a really good work ethic,” he said, “A lot of the more senior developers haven’t had as much experience with new tech like ServiceNow, or looked at the deeper systems behind it, so thanks to the degree apprenticeship, I’m already schooling the senior developers!”
Being the youngest person in the room has its benefits, too. “Having a digital native on board is a real asset,” he added. “Just like I’ve helped my parents and other relatives get to grips with tech in their day-to-day lives, I can do the same in the workplace.”
But that’s not to say there isn’t plenty more for Patten to learn. With a handful of ServiceNow exams already under his belt, Patten is working to further refine the skills needed to be a senior ServiceNow developer.
“I’m now realising all the other stuff I need to learn, considering where I should branch out, and what resources I need to move forward.”
In his opinion, that’s taken on new urgency as the world of work continues to change.
“The COVID crisis has shown us that the world of work is only going more digital,” Patten said. “For example, I started work at Methods without even going into the office. We all need the skills to be able to navigate this new world effectively, and tools like ServiceNow will become critical in that.”
Changing futures, transforming lives
For Patten, the Degree Apprenticeship program has been transformative.
“Failing was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said. “I wouldn’t have had this opportunity to do what I’m doing without this scheme; I was really spinning the wheels and didn’t know how to get back on track.”
Of course, he wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of those around him.
“My parents are so proud of me, and I owe them everything,” he said. “I’m now treating them to dinner once a month, and it feels amazing to be able to do that and know that my hard work is paying for it.”
He attributes a lot to his mentor John: “John has helped me find my future. He was an inspiration, my support network. He really gave me the intel, skills and confidence I needed. That helped me learn, and it helped with my interview, too. He transforms lives”
For other people who find themselves in a similar situation, Patten has some wise words:
“Take any opportunity, whatever your goal is, and don’t give up on the first go. I was feeling really low and uncertain, but the ServiceNow NextGen program got me out of the hamster wheel I was in, in retail. Programs like these give you a chance to move forward and build a real future.”
And for employers looking for new talent, he had this to say:
“Programs like this give you the chance to hire great people that are highly skilled, highly trained, and full of life experience – meaning they have both the ability and the knowledge to make better decisions. If you have any doubts in your mind, just go for it!”
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