Budding Gen Z Tech Professionals Struggle to Land Entry-Level Jobs

According to a new report by Wiley Edge, it appears to be taking more than half of Gen Z tech professionals up to nine months to secure their first role in the UK tech industry.

This is especially true for women and ethnic minorities, with 54% reporting that it took them between 4 to 9 months to secure an entry-level role.

According to Wiley Edge’s Diversity in Tech 2023 report, 18% of budding tech professionals took 10 months or more to start their careers.  The report also showed that only 28% of those surveyed managed to land a role within three months or less.

Due to this 62% of Gen Z respondents reported that they found it harder than expected to secure an entry-level position. There has been widespread freezing of recruitment in Big Tech of late, with rounds of layoffs affecting thousands of people. However, even in this context the report found that Gen Z still want to work for Big Tech companies.

Companies are also struggling to retain its diverse employees. The report found that 64% of businesses find it difficult to retain, however 75% believe their DEI strategies are working well. The issue is clearly a disconnect between diversity recruitment and fostering an inclusive workplace.

It isn’t just job seekers that are finding the current recruitment climate challenging. The report found that 92% of companies also face challenges when trying to hire for entry-level roles.  Businesses are finding that there is a gap between academic and real-life career requirements. A lack of core technical skills held by candidates for graduate positions is cited by 45% of companies, and a lack of soft skills by 26% of businesses.

There is also a lack of candidates with the correct academic and formal qualifications according to 42% of companies. Even so, a university degree remains desirable to most businesses. The report found that 27% of companies almost exclusively hire only from top universities, and 44% claim they are more likely do so.

Despite these requirements, the report found that over half of the respondent companies (53%) are considering dropping the requirement for a degree from certain roles to expand their candidate pool.

Out of the Gen Z surveyed, 53% said they preferred finding a role in Big Tech over any other sector, with financial services coming in second (16%).

Barriers still persist with tech still being perceived as male-dominated as a whole. Out of all those surveyed 39% though this, and 42% of all Gen Z women. It was further found that the massive tech layoffs in Big Tech are disproportionately affected women. Not only that, but the number of women in the UK tech industry has fallen.

Khadijah Pandor, Head of Partnerships at Wiley Edge said: “While it’s promising that so many Gen Z professionals are trying to make a name for themselves in technology, it’s disheartening to see that so many are facing long waits to make their career dreams a reality.

“Education is paramount in helping tech careers become more accessible. Gen Z professionals need to be made aware of the rewarding and good-paying tech roles outside of Big Tech. Whether in smaller firms or sectors such as retail, healthcare, finance and manufacturing, opportunities for skilled tech workers are abundant, but knowledge of these opportunities is less so.

“Tech roles are also hugely skills dependent, and our findings highlight that many recent graduates looking to start their career are not meeting the skills requirement employers set. Bridging the skills gap must be a priority for businesses to ensure more impactful recruitment in the long-term.

“University qualifications can’t always keep up with the pace of technological change, therefore future generations will benefit from additional job-specific training. Businesses also need to discover new ways to introduce and nurture talent from diverse backgrounds into their workforce to level the playing field for talent and overcome the digital skills shortage.”