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Only 11% of employers do not expect a tech skills shortage in the next year

The majority of employers in the UK believe they will be facing a shortage of skilled technology professionals in the next year

According to research, only 11% of employers are not expecting a shortage of skilled technology professionals over the next 12 months.

A study by recruitment firm Robert Walters, in partnership with Jobsite and Totaljobs, found a majority of firms think the next year will see moderate to severe shortages of technology talent.

Ahsan Iqbal, director of Robert Walters Manchester, said that despite the “unprecedented growth” in the technology industry over the past few years, including more skilled entrants into the field, firms are not hiring as much junior talent because of the 2008 financial crisis.

“While we are seeing a growing number of young people entering the field with a wide range of skill sets, the legacy of the 2008 financial crisis is creating ongoing challenges for employers,” he said.

“Junior-level hiring dropped significantly during the recession, and this has created a skills bottleneck at the mid-level today, with an insufficient number of professionals with the required experience available to meet demand.”

Not only had the recent acceleration in technology capability and adoption caused a widening of the UK’s tech skills gap, it has also meant that a number of technology skills have grown in demand.

The most sought-out skills are in specialisms such as cyber security, business intelligence and data-related roles, as well as software development.

These types of roles require a certain level of skills, so businesses expect that skills shortages will be felt most at mid-management level, with more than half of employers saying they expect an “acute” shortage of skills, and 36% expect a struggle when trying to recruit junior technology specialists.

Firms are less concerned about skills at a higher level, with only 9% of firms expecting an extreme shortage of skilled workers at senior levels.

But the UK’s technology skills shortage is only predicted to get worse in the UK, as the UK’s decision to leave the European Union (UK) has not only created uncertainty across all industries, but has also thrown into question whether the UK’s tech talent pipeline can match industry needs after Brexit.

Only 11% of employers in the UK thought the nations’s tech industry is well prepared to compete globally, despite the UK’s tech performance on a global scale featured heavily in the recently announced Industrial Strategy.

Iqbal said more firms should think about how they plan to attract and retain technology talent using competitive salaries, flexible working and more interesting projects.

“In terms of finding professionals with the requisite skill set, employers may also want to consider attracting candidates who are willing to relocate, both in the UK and internationally. Engaging with international recruitment agencies can give hiring managers access to talent from around the globe,” he said.

But the UK’s current rules surrounding how many skilled workers can enter the region is already causing a problem in the industry without adding Brexit to the mix.

This has led to an emphasis being put on developing the UK’s talent pipeline to cater for the fact that the number of foreign workers willing to feed the tech talent pipeline is likely to drop after Brexit.

Martin Talbot, director at Totaljobs, said because of the pace of change in the tech industry, people may not have the right level of tech skills to walk straight into the required roles, and so firms should be focused on other skills the candidates might have.

“It is important for employers to remember the value of technology professionals’ transferable skills, including project and programme management, as well as strong interpersonal skills when recruiting,” he said.

As well as making sure firms provide additional training for those who have these transferable skills, the industry is putting an emphasis on the importance of creative skills for the future of the sector.

Read more about technology skills

  • The Science and Technology Committee has released a report proposing new rules surrounding the immigration of skilled workers once Brexit has come into force.
  • Skill shortages remain a major risk to long-term information security capability and business is still struggling to defend against cyber breaches – but it is getting better at dealing with them.

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