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CIOs raise concerns over Brexit-related developer skills exodus

IT leaders are worried that they will not have enough software developers to support their companies through Brexit

The majority of CIOs believe software development skills will be essential for businesses to navigate Brexit, but many are concerned that the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU) will result in a skills exodus.

A Pivotal Labs survey of 101 CIOs and 101 IT decision-makers in UK organisations with more than 2,000 employees found that two-thirds of IT decision-makers believed the UK was in danger of losing vital software developer talent. Some 59% of CIOs said they felt a lack of access to talent would hinder their organisation’s success.

The majority of CIOs surveyed have plans to move a portion of their software development operations overseas, potentially taking work away from skilled workers remaining in the UK and giving it to rival thriving tech hubs in Europe. 

Over three-quarters (77%) of CIOs said they planned to have staff outside the UK assist in the development and deployment of software after Brexit, which is indicative of diminished confidence in the UK’s ability to succeed as a digital skills hub after a formal split from the EU, according to Pivotal Labs.

RedMonk analyst James Governor predicted Brexit would be the biggest systemic shock to British business in more than 70 years.

“The scale of change will require an unprecedented investment in IT, with in-house application development becoming more important than ever to deal with complexity,” he said.

Robbie Clutton, senior director at Pivotal Labs, said companies could choose to either shape themselves or be shaped by the circumstances brought about by the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

“Organisations can pick the route of innovation over submitting to the status quo, but it requires technology, culture and the right people working together in ways that foster agility and create business value,” he said.

Read more about Brexit-related skills shortfall

  • Skills required to prepare for leaving the EU are in short supply and the government must deal with its capability challenge, says Public Accounts Committee.
  • IT industry group TechUK sets out a five-point plan, urging government to work with the IT sector in a post-Brexit UK.

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