There is an acute and increasing specialist shortage in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector. At the same time, the percentage of women in this industry is still very low at 14.7% (2015). The ICT economy has not yet succeeded in tapping the potential of suitable female candidates. In light of this situation, a study conducted by the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland in cooperation with ICTswitzerland provides concrete recommendations on how to increase the profession’s accessibility and attractiveness.
The “Attractiveness of ICT careers” research project, led by the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) in cooperation with ICTswitzerland and sponsored by the SERI and the IT-Berufsbildung Schweiz professional training foundation, examined existing views about ICT, why the profession does not appeal to many people, and how ICT’s image must be changed to increase its attractiveness. Recommendations for action were developed based on the analysis to ensure a gender-integrated and attractive presentation of ICT educational options.
ICT careers offer more than just programming
The study shows that the relevant target groups continue to associate ICT careers almost exclusively with technology and programming. Communication and teamwork skills, which are also highly sought-after today, are not conveyed in job descriptions, even though the research project’s interviews with experts indicate that these skills are increasingly vital because ICT careers are moving away from pure programming towards a wide range of applications.
Furthermore, instead of indicating that ICT competencies can also be acquired during training, ICT skills are often regarded as a prerequisite. This is not conducive to improving the profession’s accessibility.
Based on the analyses, the following recommendations were developed for revamping the image of the ICT profession:
- Ensure that communication can connect. The use of ICT-specific specialist terminology demands prior knowledge and reduces the size of the target audience. Instead, training programmes, job profiles, and the related skills should be described as concretely as possible and complemented using clear examples from the different areas of application so that the broadest possible access is ensured. When communicating with young people in particular, it is crucial that positive emotions are built into the job description. Rather than using stereotypical images of employees sitting in front of screens, the focus should be more on showing people in interactive situations which arise on a daily basis in an ICT career.
- Give a well-balanced representation of the skills and activity portfolio. The different skills and activity areas must be given equal weighting in job descriptions in order to also attract people with a wide range of interests to ICT training. Social and communication skills must also have their place alongside technical competencies – after all, this profession’s current and future working practices are not just about programming or taking computers apart.
- Position technology as learnable and purposeful. The description must make it clear that the necessary technical skills can be acquired and are not prerequisites. Furthermore, ICT is not an end in itself. It is vital for various sectors, such as medical and environmental technology, to overcome the challenges posed by companies and society. These uses, along with the different application areas, should be put centre stage in any description of training programmes and courses of study.
- Describe the future of the career in concrete terms. ICT careers are the careers that are shaping society’s future within the context of its digitalisation. They are careers that will continue to offer very good opportunities on the job market based on thorough training and ongoing education. The descriptions of this profession and potential careers should include this aspect of future viability.
“The study clearly showed that we must move away from the image of ICT as a strictly technological discipline that requires existing technical skills and interests. The current approach excludes many people, and due to the implicit gender constructions – technical skills and interests are usually considered a male-dominated field – access is made more difficult for women”, commented project head Prof. Dörte Resch in summarising the findings. “In order to remove this entrenched image, we must place more emphasis on the uses and diversity of ICT, as well as the social and communication skills it requires.”
The project was funded by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI and the IT-Berufsbildung Schweiz foundation.
View a complete synthesis report here: www.fhnw.ch/wirtschaft/pmo
For more information, contact:
Andreas Kaelin, CEO ICTswitzerland
T. +41 31 311 62 45 | contact by email
Prof. Dr. Dörte Resch, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW),
School of Business Institute for Human Resource Management (PMO)
+41 62 957 2536 | contact by email
Communiquée de presse, le 9 mai 2017
Zusammenfassung des Syntheseberichts
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