When planning your future career, did you ever dream you’d be a cloud engineer?
Along with jobs like app developer and machine learning engineer, it didn’t exist until well into the 21st century.
Now, with tech moving at lightning pace and transforming industries, it’s estimated that around 85 per cent of the jobs today's students will have beyond this decade have yet to be invented.
With so many unknowns on the horizon, how can tech businesses – like ours and customer relationship management software pioneers Salesforce – help to prepare workforces for the future?
Pathfinder has helped me to discover what I can do and what I can dream of doing. I never thought I’d be able to get a role at a tech company. But I’ve got the self-confidence now to apply myself and ask for opportunities.
Pathfinder graduate and Salesforce solution engineer
“The anticipated pace of change is exciting – because where there’s change, there’s opportunity,” said Deloitte’s managing partner for Consulting, Anne-Marie Malley.
To make sure this means equal opportunity, rather than looking at skills development in isolation, Anne-Marie and her team are looking at the bigger picture; seizing the opportunity the industry has to become more inclusive while equipping people with different sorts of skills.
“We’re getting to grips with huge changes in the way we train people – and working with businesses like Salesforce to open up access to tech jobs as widely as we can.”
The first 20-week UK Pathfinder course, piloted last year as a collaboration between Deloitte and Salesforce, equipped 45 people who are traditionally under-represented in tech with the skills to land in-demand, high-paying roles within the industry, working with Salesforce and other tech tools.
While Salesforce provided trainees with free technical training and access to its certification exams, Deloitte provided training that emphasised the three Cs: critical thinking, communication and collaboration.
There’s nothing soft about these skills
To embed flexibility in trainees’ skills base as advanced technologies become more pervasive, ‘soft skills’ gain even more importance – although there’s nothing soft about these skills, which are essential for those who want to succeed in business.
“We’re talking about the ability to use critical thinking in their day-to-day tasks,” said Lesley Bosworth, a director at Deloitte.
“Whatever clients we work with, we need consultants who can, for example, produce creative, structured and compelling presentations that show how they really understand their needs.
“They also need excellent communication skills, so they can articulate solutions clearly. And the ability to collaborate with people in all kinds of roles, to establish long lasting, genuine relationships.”
I didn’t come from an office background. It was really helpful to meet people already working at Deloitte. They gave me more of an idea of what being a developer involved and the career path on offer.
A leap of faith
In January 2021, after four months of hard work, the first cohort of 45 students graduated from our inaugural programme. Five really caught our eye – so we offered them jobs.
Deborah Karunakaran, who joined Deloitte in June 2020 as a Salesforce business analyst, was one of them.
She heard about the Pathfinder programme through a youth charity and applied after leaving her banking job during the pandemic. Having never previously thought of a career in tech, she took a leap of faith – with some reservations.
“I didn’t think I could fit in because I don’t have a background in tech but I had faith that, whatever happened, I’d take away something beneficial. Then, because Pathfinder bridges business and technology, I saw how the skills I already had were relevant.”
The leap paid off. Having landed a job at Deloitte, Deborah now wants to complete her Salesforce certification and progress to consultant level.
“It was the best possible outcome! Pathfinder opened doors for me and gave me the technology acumen that I needed to succeed.”
Looking to the future
With other graduates from the programme going on to jobs in firms including Salesforce, the first cohort of trainees have helped to make the programme a success – and it’s just the beginning for Deloitte and Salesforce.
“It really shows what can be achieved when people who wouldn’t normally have considered a tech career give it a go – and doors are opened to give them a chance,” said Lesley. “The second UK Pathfinder programme is now under way, with a brilliant new cohort of people who are set to graduate later in 2021.”
So, watch this space...