Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 15.27.31POOR CAREERS advice that is leading to thousands of young people leaving education without the skills needed for industry could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to new software developed by a Sunderland technology business.

Geek Talent, a software-as-a-service company, has launched Career Hacker, scalable technology that uses a range of data sources to draw insight about the DNA of different careers, and creates a ‘route-map’ of the skills needed to succeed in a host of industries and job roles.

The Sunderland Software Centre business, set up by IT whiz Dominic Murphy, takes insight gained from a broad range of platforms, including social media sites and job market data, to map out the pathways taken by people who are succeeding in their chosen career.  This is then translated into an easy-to-understand chart, showing the skills required to achieve success in a host of sectors – from IT to engineering.

The product makes it simple and straightforward for people to identify the skills they will need to enter a particular industry, and vitally, offers insight that can be used by educators to better align courses to meet current and future industry requirements.

Dominic, who launched Geek Talent in 2014, said that the Career Hacker product aims to offer informed, detailed careers guidance to young people, by supporting often under-resourced schools, colleges and universities to deliver high-quality careers advice to students using a virtual advisor.

He said: “Generations of young people have – unfortunately – been given inadequate advice about careers, and in some cases, this has led to severe skills shortages in sectors that are absolutely vital to the economic prosperity of the North East.

“For as long as our young people continue to receive substandard careers advice and guidance, the region and indeed UK Plc will suffer.  We really must become smarter, and find scalable solutions to allow every young person to access the best possible standard of advice that enables them to pursue and secure employment in a role that meets the area’s economic priorities and fits with their individual interests and skills set.”

He added: “Our expectations of careers advisors are simply unrealistic.  Technology is moving at a rapid pace, and that is impacting on the skills needs of just about every sector.  Often people in industry struggle to keep up with advancements in their own field, so how can we reasonably expect careers advisors, who are supporting young people with information about a whole plethora of sectors, to have up to date knowledge about every field?  We can’t.  And we shouldn’t.  And that is why technology like Career Hacker, in the hands of a school, college, sixth form or university – and potentially even employers – is invaluable.”

The product launch comes just weeks after careers advice in schools was described as ‘dysfunctional’ by regional officials.  Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw has also been publicly critical of careers advice in schools, blaming “selfish” headteachers who encourage students to stay on for sixth form to keep budgets strong rather than offering them decent careers advice on vocational alternatives.

“There is an acceptance that careers advice is not up to scratch,” said Dominic.

“And we are trying to do something about it.  Starting in the North East, but hopefully looking at how we can scale up our technology to help tackle what is a worldwide issue.”

Geek Talent employs a team of skilled data scientists, and – as well as Career Hacker – has a specific IT recruitment product, and an IT bootcamp course, that takes people who are not in employment or education and puts them through a 12-week course, that includes a live project, to train them in coding.

Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, which has supported the bootcamp arm of the business to improve the employability of people in the city, said: “Geek Talent is an innovative company, and its Career Hacker product really could transform the way that careers advice works – bridging the gap between education and industry and ensuring that qualified young people are equipped with the skills they will need to succeed in their career, not just pass their course.

“To be able to see this product starting to influence the approach educators are taking to careers advice and guidance in Sunderland is fantastic – and we’re pleased to be the first of many places nationally and internationally that I am sure will follow our lead.”

For more information about Career Hacker, visit https://technorth.careerhacker.uk/