A LinkedIn 2015 survey revealed that liberal arts graduates are entering the technology industry at a faster rate than computer science and engineering graduates.  Indeed, graduates in English, history, music, anthropology, philosophy, law and many other disciplines are transitioning to a wide range of roles in the tech industry, including sales, digital marketing, software development and project management.

Yes, it’s true. Employers value the creative thinking, problem solving, communication and teamwork skills that graduates from several disciplines bring.  They recognise that whilst specific technical skills can become obsolete very quickly, these so-called “soft skills” (which are arguably not “soft” at all) will always remain relevant.  Whatever your academic discipline, if you are willing to learn, unlearn and relearn new skills on an ongoing basis, a world of opportunities in the digital tech sector awaits you.

Scott Hartley, a venture capitalist and author of the Financial Times bestseller “The Fuzzy and the Techie”believes that humanities and social sciences are in fact key talents responsible for creating the most successful tech business ideas.  It is certainly interesting to reflect on the backgrounds of some tech movers and shakers out there:

Youtube’s CEO, Susan Wojcicki, studied History

Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, was an English teacher

Snapchat’s former COO, Emily White, studied fine art and studio arts

Paypal’s co-founder, Peter Thiel, studied philosophy and law

Linkedin’s founder, Reid Hoffman, studied philosophy

Slack’s founder, Stewart Butterfield, studied philosophy

And the list goes on.

The UK is a leader in digital technology in Europe and on the international stage. Investment is pouring in.  The digital tech sector has enjoyed a 22% growth (£30 billion) over 5 years, and is creating jobs at twice the rate of the non-digital tech sector.  The average salary is 44% higher than the national average.  Skills shortages abound and promise to get worse when Britain leaves the EU.  So there are more incentives than ever for digital tech companies to hire and train up UK citizens from both tech and non-tech backgrounds.  Moreover, under the recently restructured apprenticeship scheme, companies can now access government funding to pay for training recruits of all ages and all levels of qualification– see  http://bit.ly/2osIx6x

Sadly, people of Caribbean heritage are rare in the digital tech space.  Indeed, BAME people as a whole are woefully under-represented in the sector and are missing out on a wealth of opportunities.   UKBlackTech is a promising organization we came cross recently which was set up  to address this problem.

Some may well feel daunted by the prospect of switching to such a new and very different sector,  and of having to master seemingly complex, new skills. The next article in the series Opportunity Knocks will tell you why you should put any such doubts and fears aside and go for it.

An overview of the UK’s fast growing digital tech sector can be found here: https://technation.techcityuk.com/

Executive Director,
Future Think,
Penny Carballo-Smith