Starting a Career in IT & Digital


Starting a Career in IT & Digital

Considering a career in the IT & Digital sectors? From labour market insights to entry requirements, we explain everything you need to get started.

 

Sector Overview

 

Digital skills are undeniably needed in all sectors due to digital transformation and process automation. The biggest areas of growth are:


• Cyber security
• Cloud
• IT governance
• Automation
• The ‘as-a-service’ model
• Agile methods
• Mobile/Apps
• AI
• Internet of things
• Machine learning
• 5G


Despite recent challenges posed by COVID-19, certain sectors across the UK have continued to thrive and IT is one of them. Businesses in a range of industries have needed to embrace new technologies – from remote-working IT networking and advanced security through to e-commerce and online payment solutions to reduce cash transactions.

As a result, the UK’s tech sector has shown resilience and continued growth as many technologies have been adapted at a quicker pace than in normal times. This has naturally meant an increase in new job creation as skilled workers are needed to fuel this momentum.

According to Tech Nation’s ‘UK in Tech’ 2020 review, almost 3 million people were employed in the UK’s digital economy – an increase of 11% within the last 2 years. Plus, according to the UK Tech Ecosystem Update 2020, a tenth of all UK job vacancies are tech roles. It’s estimated that if they continued to grow at the same rate, there would be 100,000 new job openings per month by June 2021.

However, this pace of growth and changing technologies has had an impact. It’s recognised that there are now no formal progression routes within the tech sector and the vast differences between role titles and job descriptions from company to company can make it harder to navigate the opportunities available.

On the flip side, the flexibility created by these different entry and development routes can lead to diversity and social mobility as it opens up opportunities to non-traditional employment and educational backgrounds.

 

Role Profiles


There are lots of different roles available within IT – working for large global companies or smaller businesses and tech start-ups. SMEs can often be a good route into the sector through consultancy or technical support roles. Some of the traditional roles may include:

  • Applications development
  • Computer forensics
  • Content management
  • Cyber security and risk management
  • Data analysis and analytics
  • FinTech
  • Game development
  • Geographical information systems (GIS)
  • Hardware engineering
  • Information management
  • IT consultancy (business and technical)
  • IT sales (hardware, software, services)
  • Multimedia programming
  • Software engineering (designing, building, developing and testing)
  • Systems / network management
  • Technical support
  • Telecommunications
  • Web design / development

 

IT professionals often work in other sectors too – with manufacturing, financial services, public sector and retail being the biggest growth areas.

If you think a career within IT, Tech or Digital might be for you but you’re not sure where to start, you need to do some research. The National Careers Service and Prospects websites have some very detailed role profiles you can read that explain exactly what each of these jobs involve, the qualifications and skills required, and how to get started.
You might also find it useful to search on job-boards for live vacancies. You can read through the job advertisements to get a better understanding of the duties and the person requirements – in terms of soft skills and qualifications – that are needed to take on the job.

Search jobs in IT here

 


Career Prospects


As a buoyant sector where there are recognised skills-shortages (that is, more jobs than applicants), what are the benefits of starting a career in the tech sector?

 

  • High levels of demand due to skills shortages and strong jobs outlook
  • Higher than average starting salaries
  • Flexible working hours (but tend to be longer)
  • Opportunities to travel, work abroad and work from anywhere
  • Chance to be self-employed (not unusual to work as a contractor, freelancer or start your own business)
  • Variety as part of a constantly changing industry

 

 

Entry Requirements

 

So whether you’re currently at school, college, university, just starting your career or considering a career change – how do you get started with a career in IT?

Firstly, you need to develop some practical knowledge or expertise as most employers expect you to have some understanding of the technologies or methodologies most commonly used. Freelance or project work can be a big advantage and there’s plenty of opportunities to play around with tech for free at home – from gaming to graphic design.

In terms of technical skills, the most common include technical writing, social media management, coding, networking configuration, hardware deployment, OS knowledge, database management – or just being good at figuring out how things work or how to fix them!

Secondly, you should try to develop the soft skills that employers are looking for from IT and tech applicants. These include communication skills, resourcefulness, project management, analysis, team work, leadership skills, flexibility, innovation, curiosity and organisation. 

There are lots of different routes in the IT and tech sector through education – from traditional university graduate routes such as Computer Science, through to vocational and academic pathways, as well as apprenticeships.

Search available courses here

 

As it can be a competitive jobs market for the best jobs, it is a good idea to try and get some work experience. You can explore opportunities to volunteer, start an apprenticeship or a traineeship (some of which are paid opportunities too).

View our traineeships and apprenticeships here
 

View our volunteer jobs here

 

 

Employers & Experts 

 

It can also be useful to hear from local employers about what they look for in suitable candidates to get an insight into real job opportunities. Or from industry experts undertaking those roles currently and what a typical day involves.

As part of National Careers Week #NCW2021, we launched a series of Virtual Careers Fairs to help you understand more about a career in IT & Digital. Watch the video below to get an overview from the sector, hear from training providers about available courses, as well as employers and experts providing real world insights and employee encounters.

 

 

 

You can also view more Featured Employer & Virtual Work Experience guides in our Careers Hub
 

You can search for the very latest jobs in the Stockport area here. We have a wide range of part time, temporary, volunteer and permanent positions in  Administration, Cleaning, Customer Service, Driving, Financial, IT & Tech, Social Care/Healthcare and Warehouse jobs in Stockport.

Please visit our training section, our comprehensive careers advice section and you can also register your CV here.