Have you ever thought about a career in the cyber and technology sectors? How about IT project management, data analytics, cyber security, programming, network development and design? It’s a sector going from strength to strength, explains AFF Employment & Training Specialist Lucy Ritchie…
WHAT ARE THE PLUS POINTS?
- It’s a growth industry so you’ll be in demand, have job security and able to advance your career along your chosen path.
- There are plenty of remote working opportunities.
- There’s plenty of variety – the work is continually changing, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn new skills as technology develops.
- There are varied work environments – you could be self-employed, freelancing or providing outsourcing services; in the public or private sectors.
- There are plenty of different routes into the sector – tech degrees aren’t essential, and you can get a role by gaining experience and taking specialised courses.
- The pay is good.
WHAT ARE THE DRAWBACKS?
- The hours can be long or you might be on-call; but other roles can offer flexibility.
- Some tasks can be repetitive.
- There tends to be less room for mistakes, so precision is key.
- You’ll need to keep up with new trends and emerging information.
The TechVets programme from the Forces Employment Charity (FEC) offers access to free IT training, an online community and employment support.
Jisc is the UK’s technology and data body for post-16 education and research. HR Director Georgina Crean says: “Jisc is keen to support people to be the best they can be, which includes allowing staff the flexibility to choose, within certain parameters, where and when they work, which suits military spouses very well. While we can’t allow staff to work permanently from abroad, the jobs of any army spouses employed by Jisc would be unaffected if they need to regularly shift around the UK. It means they can develop a career, while we benefit from a committed and thriving workforce.”
Barclays Military and Veterans Outreach has partnered with Barclays Eagle Labs to give the armed forces community support in growing their businesses.
“Barclays is committed to supporting and empowering military spouses in their journey into the tech industry,” says Andy White of Barclays.
“Through our employment pipeline, we are dedicated to promoting and aiding these resilient individuals. Our goal extends beyond traditional employment, as we encourage and assist military spouses in launching their own tech-focused businesses.” See labs. uk.barclays/what-we-offer
Centrica is working to promote STEM careers for forces families. It offers pathways to enable military spouses and partners to realise their potential.
Alexis Richards, Business Development Manager for the Centrica Ex-Forces Pathway, says: “My advice would be to reach out to me via Forces Families Jobs. I’d be happy to give you half an hour to chat about transferable skills, work life balance and different types of roles.” See centrica.com/ careers/emerging-talent/
We spoke to military spouses working in the sector to hear about their experiences…
SARA HILTON – cybersecurity analyst
Sara found support from FEC and went from “the least technical person” to landing a new career in cyber security.
Sara, a mother of three, spent 10 years travelling alongside her husband Andrew who served with the Royal Signals. When she decided she’d like to try something new, it was Andrew who pointed her towards the TechVets and Families programmes.
“Andrew had been doing a lot of stuff with TechVets and he kept saying, ‘do cyber security, you should do some qualifications,’” she recalls. “Being the least technical person that I’ve ever known, I didn’t think I could.”
Originally devised to support veterans, the TechVets programme now includes spouses and partners.
“When they opened up their resources to spouses, I thought, why not try one of the basic ones?” she says. “I wasn’t as terrible as I thought. I powered through it, and really enjoyed it.”
Sara made the most of the resources available – she used the online community for tips, and sent her CV to her Families Programme advisor for useful hints. She then began her job hunt on the TechVets jobs board, which features roles that you often can’t find anywhere else. That was the case for Sara’s eventual position – “I finally found the dream job,” she says.
Sara’s job now fits perfectly around her life. She spends one day a week in the nearby office, and the other four working from home.
“Nearly all roles are remote,” she says, “The job I had before, I was working most weekends, so I was missing out on all the family time that we would have had together. Now Andrew and I will be off every weekend.”
SARAH ISLE – service capacity manager
“After I was married, I followed my husband around the UK, picking up the odd admin job. Employers were generally put off by the number and spread of jobs on my CV or felt they couldn’t invest in me because I’d be moving in a year or two,” she says.
“Luckily, in 2019, I landed a job with Jisc. My line manager was also a military spouse and told me at interview there were offices around the country, so next time we were posted there was an option to just move office rather than leave the company.
“Even before the pandemic, the company had a very flexible approach and we are still lucky to be able to choose whether to work from home, or any of the offices. In fact, we can work from any place in the UK where we can connect to the internet.
“Being a technical, fast-moving industry, there are a wealth of online training opportunities that I can access from anywhere. And, thanks to Jisc’s flexible approach to working, it meant that when we were posted again last year, I only had to plug my laptop in at the new address and switch it on.”
SHARDAI COSGROVE – founder and director, Fintellity.com
Ten years ago Shardai was one of the first employees of a ‘fintech’ start-up. She was hands-on from the start, designing and building products and she loved it.
She says: “I learned loads and made lots of friends, and then the company was bought out. In the new company, I moved from working on alternative payments to card payments, which rounded out my knowledge.”
Shardai’s husband had been telling her about the military community experiencing problems with debt and gambling, which resonated with her experience of student debt. This knowledge of the military, coupled with her previous experience in payments, gave her the idea for a new product: Fintellity. She worked on the idea in the background, and was finally able to quit her day job in 2021 to focus on her start-up.
Shardai was looking for help with growing her business when she discovered Barclays Eagle Labs accelerator course for entrepreneurs. “It’s a three-month programme with master classes each week. You get sessions with a coach, external and internal mentors. Hannah, my mentor, has been fantastic. She opened so many doors.”
With her business poised for the next stage, and plans for future developments of her products, Shardai is confident that a career in fintech is a great place to be.