A shortage of skilled candidates from Stem backgrounds is not news to the industry.
However, the bigger question recruiters are posing is ‘why aren’t more women working in the field?’
Stem is a curriculum based on the idea of educating pupils in the four specific disciplines – science, technology, engineering and maths.
Last year, a study by the UK Commission for Employment & Skills found that 43 per cent of Stem vacancies are difficult to fill.
An alarming statistic considering that Stem sectors support key technological advancements and help to build our economy.
The study also showed that the shortage of skilled candidates worsened for the ninth year in a row.
And, despite the research showing young women as being more successful in Stem-based subjects then young men at GCSE level, most do not carry on to study at university level.
Jayne Tanner and Hester Appleby-Goudberg are the exception to the rule. They, along with many other women, are currently leading the female workforce at Specsavers’ head office for IT operations in Whiteley.
Jayne, a support lead manager, looks after the site’s Tier 3 service desk and hundreds of stores throughout the UK.
Jayne said: ‘I used to work in retail management until I suffered a back injury. I took a job at a helpdesk for an IT firm and got my foot in the door.
‘I realised how great an industry it is to be in and haven’t looked back since.’
Having worked in IT for more than 20 years, Jayne has now settled at Specsavers.
She added: ‘There are so many options for women in the industry, and at Specsavers,’
Despite working in what reports consider to be a male-dominated industry, Jayne has never experienced gender discrimination.
She said: ‘Luckily, it has never happened to me.
‘I do have a friend working for a different company whose male colleague is less skilled, yet he is on more money. So I know that this issue exists.’
Jayne is also squashing stereotypes out of the office. She said: ‘For years I’ve been involved in property development.
‘I have a van filled with power tools. I can fit a kitchen and plumb a bathroom.
‘It’s important to do what you enjoy and not limit yourself based on some stupid stereotype.’
A sentiment echoed by Hester, a part-time photographer and full-time team leader who currently manages 26 men on the IT service desk.
Hester said: ‘I worked my way up to become a team leader at Specsavers and I thoroughly enjoy it.
I enjoy working with men, but at the same time I’m actively trying to get more women on to the desk and into the sector, because there are so many fantastic opportunities.
‘Specsavers takes care of its own and hard work is rewarded. I don’t know why more women aren’t getting involved.‘
For the next round of recruitment, Hester will be on the panel, with equal opportunity at the forefront of her mind.
She added: ‘Men and women who are in the same field and have the same skill-set should receive equal pay.
‘As a woman who didn’t plan to get into the industry, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
‘Women should seriously considered a career in IT.’