By Sandra O’Connell
The tech sector has long revelled in the success of its world-famous college dropouts. Apple’s Steve Jobs, Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Spotify’s Daniel Ek all star in its non-alumni hall of fame.
For the rest of us however, a degree has always been the most reliable route into a career in tech. To be clear, it still is.
Undertaking a computer science degree, if you can afford the time, energy and money is an investment in yourself that will definitely not hinder your career in tech. That’s particularly true now, a time of high-profile industry “rightsizing”.
However, in recent years a growing number of big-name tech employers have indicated that not having a degree is an unnecessary barrier to getting hired. In short, it is prohibiting too many good candidates with skills, experience and potential from getting in the door.
New collar jobs
In the US, companies such as Google and IBM have reduced the educational qualifications for some roles. Instead, they focus more on the skills and experience required to actually do the job.
Given that almost 40 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds in the EU have not completed third-level education, it’s a trend that is likely to open up new opportunities here too.
IBM has pioneered this shift away from degree requirements, with less than one third of its job ads for IT roles requiring a degree.
It coined the term “new collar jobs” to refer to the surging number of careers that don’t necessarily require a traditional Bachelor’s degree but instead need a specific set of in-demand skills.
It has gone further, developing alternative routes in, such as apprenticeship programmes that provide on-the-job training in areas from blockchain to cybersecurity.
Other tech firms are developing new pathways too. Google launched Google Career Certificates, available online on Coursera, enabling people to become job ready for growing careers, such as data analytics, UX design and project management.
These low-cost programmes help people who want to learn online at their own pace, or who want to change careers and don’t have the time or means to access traditional education.
They can be completed in under six months, do not require relevant experience or a degree, and are recognised by industry experts and employers. For example, a Google Project Management Professional Certificate takes six months to complete, at 10 hours a week, and is designed to prepare you for an entry-level job in a fast-growing, high-paying sector.
There is a wide range of MOOCs (massive open online courses) available now too, often for free, from some of the world’s top universities, as well as dedicated education platforms such as Udemy.
Completing such courses shows you as a motivated, disciplined, self-starter with a growth mindset.
Woz U, founded by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, another college dropout, provides tech education for independent students, with courses in software development, data science and cyber security - an area for which demand has continued to grow, despite the recent round of tech layoffs.
Consulting firm Accenture’s apprenticeship programme offers degrees up to postgraduate master’s level. Its intention is to fill 20 per cent of its entry-level roles in the US this way, in everything from app development to platform engineering.
Its master’s degree apprenticeship programmes are aimed at individuals without a technical background who want to kick-start a career in technology.
In fact, since establishing the apprenticeship programme in 2016, Accenture has hired more than 1,200 apprentices. The vast majority - 960 people, or 80 per cent - joined the company without a four-year college degree.
Want to get into tech but not sure if you qualify? Here are three openings worth checking out, with plenty more available on Euronews.jobs.
Apprentice Data Visualisation Developer, Multiverse, Leeds
Multiverse, a UK tech scaleup with a social mission, is building an alternative to university and corporate training, through the power of professional apprenticeships. It currently has an opening for an Apprentice Data Visualisation Developer at Jet2 in Leeds for someone with great attention to detail who enjoys dealing with people and building relationships.
To explore this role further, apply here.
Customer Care Manager, HERO Software, Remote
HERO Software in Germany has a remote position for a Customer Care Manager for German speakers. It is looking for candidates with experience in customer service in other sectors looking for an opportunity in a fast-growing tech start-up. It specifies communication skills, a “hands on” mentality and an affinity with technology.
If this sounds like something that would interest you, explore your suitability here.
Senior Software Engineer, Coupa Software, Germany
Coupa Software, a US-based leader in cloud-based business spend management, is looking for a Senior Software Engineer in Ettenheim, Germany. It’s looking for a candidate who can show strong previous experience but, it says, while typically its team members have a higher education degree in STEM, this is not a hard requirement.
To learn more, or apply for the role, click here.
To find more great tech openings where skills and experience may count for more than qualifications visit Euronews.jobs