Gernot Krautberger - stock.adobe
Despite ongoing initiatives to give people the digital skills they need for both the workplace and modern living, there is still a significant skills shortage in UK tech.
More young people may be looking to technology as a subject they want to pursue, but for those in the tech sector, projects have been put on hold because of a lack of talent.
As the economy continues to struggle, there will be tough decisions surrounding budgets over the next year, which could affect IT hiring, although salaries for tech workers currently seem safe.
At the start of the year, it was clear the talent gap was having an impact on the technology projects IT leaders were able to achieve.
Research by Udacity and Ipsos found 51% of managers in the UK had complained of a lack of tech skills, and 51% had had to hire people without the skills they need for certain roles.
While upskilling has been cited as a way to address the growing skills gap, the lack of people with immediately available skills is still slowing down technology projects.
Although progress may be slow when it comes to encouraging new people into the technology industry, 2022 marked the third year in a row where interest in computer science grew at degree level.
When BCS looked into data provided by UCAS, it found the number of people applying to study computer science at degree level increased by 13% year on year in 2022.
Julia Adamson, director of education at BCS, speculated that increased awareness of artificial intelligence (AI), global cyber security and social media safety have contributed to the increase in interest in computer science.
The tech skills shortage in the UK also stretches outside of the technology industry, with many workers not having the digital skills needed for the everyday workplace.
According to FutureDotNow, about 11.8 million of the UK’s working population are unable to complete at least one of Lloyds’ Essential Digital Skills deemed necessary for the workplace.
Updating privacy settings, updating security systems and accessing digital payslips are among the essential workplace digital skills that millions in the UK don’t have.
As the UK’s tech sector continues to grow, more and more firms are looking to increase their technology teams.
According to CompTIA, the number of jobs added to the tech sector has increased by an average of 10,356 a year in the past five years.
Summer 2022 had the not-for-profit trade association predicting a higher-than-average increase in tech roles in the UK over the next year.
There have been more positive moves when it comes to the number of students choosing to do a computing A-level, with the subject seeing its fourth year of growth.
In 2022, 15,693 students chose to sit the A-level computing exam, with female students accounting for almost 15% of candidates.
But grade attainment was down this year – only 14.5% of students achieved an A* grade this year, whereas 19.9% achieved the same result in 2021 – possibly because of the shake-up to exams caused by the pandemic.
As part of the UK’s push to make sure skilled workers from overseas have access to roles in the UK, the UK’s Global Talent visa scheme began in February 2020.
But Tech Nation, which is the official endorsing body for the digital technology route of the scheme, found many of those endorsed through the route are working in supporting roles.
Both technical and non-technical talent is important for sustaining the UK’s growing tech sector, and around 1,200 of the more than 2,500 people Tech Nation has endorsed are working in roles such as PR, HR, legal, sales or operations.
Currently, the technology skills gap in the UK still has firms increasing salaries to attract skilled candidates.
Job marketplace Hired said tech salaries in the UK, US and Canada increased over the past year across almost all roles.
But with the tech climate changing, 27.2% think the power will shift to employers by the beginning of 2023.
There are many initiatives across the UK aimed at increasing the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills of young people.
One of these was launched by artificial intelligence (AI) company DeepMind at the tail end of 2022, with the aim of developing resources to help teachers better educate students on different tech-based topics.
As well as these resources, the programme will help already existing initiatives give as many young people as possible a good background knowledge of AI.
While the landscape is improving for women in the technology sector, there are still many problems across the technology pipeline.
This year, two female students, one at GCSE level and one at A-level, talked about their experiences when it comes to technology education.
GCSE student Rebecca Flinders shared that tech-based subjects are too challenging at her school, leaving her finding them uninteresting, while A-level student Bella Grimsey talked about the difficulties of being the only girl in her A-level computer science class.
As the year came to a close, businesses were still struggling with their lack of access to skilled tech workers.
Nash Squared reported 68% of digital leaders in the UK said a lack of skills was standing in their way, with 70% globally saying they couldn’t keep up with tech trends because of it.
As the roles available outnumber the people available to take them, firms are increasingly competing for the best of the talent market.