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CIOs unsure how Brexit will affect their ability to hire IT staff

Harvey Nash/KPMG survey shows CIOs are looking to boost their IT teams, but US and UK immigration rules may block their plans

CIOs are concerned that Brexit and changes to US immigration will have a profound impact on their ability to hire new talent, given the shortage of IT skills many are experiencing.

The Harvey Nash/KPMG global survey of 3,958 IT leaders reported that more than one-third (38%) of CIOs are unsure about whether their region’s work visa legislation supports their talent and hiring strategies.

And almost two-thirds (65%) said that a lack of people with the right skills is preventing their organisation from keeping up with the pace of change.

After two years in which the recruitment of new staff remained flat, Harvey Nash and KPMG’s survey found that almost half of this year’s respondents (47%) expect their headcount to increase in the next 12 months.

The survey showed that demand for big data and analytic skills remains a real hot-spot for organisations of all shapes and sizes, and demand for architecture skills, whether technical or enterprise, continues to increase.

According to the survey, the skill in most demand is big data and analytics, with 46% of CIOs saying they had vacancies for these skills. More than one-third of CIOs (35%) said they had vacancies for technical architects, 35% were looking for security talent and 35% had vacancies for enterprise architects.

The study also found that larger organisations seem to be seeking significantly more artificial intelligence (AI) experts than smaller ones. More than half (56%) of respondents with IT budgets over $250m listed AI skills as a priority, compared with 45% of respondents with budgets under $50m

Given the demand for IT skills, 42% of CIOs in Europe said they were unsure of the impact of the UK’s planned departure from the EU on their ability to obtain work visas for staff.

Read more about the UK skills gap

In the US, Harvey Nash and KMPG found that almost half of the CIOs surveyed said the proposed hard-line tightening of the legislation surrounding the H-1B visa would have a negative impact. H-1B, which allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise, is used by IT leaders to hire tens of thousands of workers each year from countries such as India and China.

Beyond the skills gap, the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO survey found that 60% of UK CIOs said their management was looking at IT to help enhance customer experience. It also found that when it comes to prioritising digital technology initiatives, improving customer experience is the most important goal for 62% of UK CIOs.

Read more on CW500 and IT leadership skills

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