‘Language Matters’ – employers and universities commit to action

40 employers and universities plan to take action to help students transition from education to employment, as a result of roundtables held in London and Manchester earlier this month, and a new LinkedIn group ‘Language Matters in Tech’ has been created to help employers and academics continue to share ideas for mutual benefit.

Employers of digital professionals from all sectors of the economy came together with university lecturers and other stakeholders to learn from each other, taking away new ideas for practical action.

Employers heard how simple changes to job adverts can achieve much greater volumes of high quality applications.  Many employers decided to review their own approach as a result of what they heard, for example simplifying language and job titles, using text analysers to identify words that would deter women, and engaging recent graduates and apprentices in designing adverts in future.  Participants also reflected on the fact that many adverts list a wide range of skills which are not in fact required on entry but are rather the skills to be developed in the role. Females are less likely than males to apply for a role for which they don’t possess all skills requested.

“We need more talent into digital careers, and making it easier for students to transition from education into employment is a big part of that. The ‘Language Matters’ roundtable has given me practical ideas as to what we can do as an organisation to help.”
Sylvia Cairo, Technical Team Lead, HM Land Registry

Universities reported a similar response to the discussions. Participants were surprised to learn that, of a sample set of ten course descriptors assessed by the Tech Partnership using a text analyser, eight showed unconscious gender bias that would deter female applicants.

“I think it’s very important for anyone trying to attract young talent into tech roles to carefully consider their use of language and how the message is delivered. The Language Matters workshop provided practical steps that can be taken by both educators and employers to help attract a more diverse range of candidates, which will hopefully help increase the talent pool and reduce the skills gap that this sector is currently experiencing.”
Liz Gorb, Director of Apprenticeships Manchester Metropolitan University

Considering the emphasis employers placed on non-technical skills, some universities said they would consider integrating more soft skills and developing more work-related content into their computing degrees, along with doing more to help students understand the range of careers their degrees can lead to.

These roundtables followed the publication of ‘Language Matters’ on 11th June 2018. This document provides thought-provoking insight, based on an analysis of 100,000 job adverts, 3,000 degree titles, and the input of over 100 senior professionals in industry and academia. It has been produced as part of a Tech Partnership-run project commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to help improve the graduate employment and the flow of talent into IT-related careers.

Click here to download a free copy of the ‘Language Matters’ report.

To keep updated and take part in the conversation, join the ‘Language Matters in Tech’ LinkedIn group.