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Top 10 IT careers and skills stories of 2023

Looking back at the skills and hiring landscape in 2023, Computer Weekly shares the key moments for IT careers and skills over the past 12 months

The technology skills gap is still ongoing, with people not only lacking the technical skills needed for digital roles, but also some of the basic digital skills needed for day-to-day life.

Workers were looking for digital skills, but they were also on the hunt for new jobs, as the tech hiring landscape became uncertain in 2023.

Struggles with the economy and cost of living have made having the right skills and people to do the job more important than ever before.

1. Tech skills shortage still a problem for employers

For years, employers have struggled to find skilled workers, and 2023 was no different, with Hays finding 95% of employers experiencing a tech skills shortage in the past year.

This was actually an increase from the previous year, leading to employers planning to hire people that can be trained on the job rather than attempt to recruit people with ready-made skills.

2. Almost 70% of UK digital workers interested in expanding tech skills

With the significant IT skills gap in the UK, it’s no surprise that many workers have had no digital skills training, and more than 60% of people think they’re unqualified for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers.

But that doesn’t mean workers aren’t willing to learn – AND Digital found around a third of people aged 55 or over want to develop their digital skills.

AWS also found 67% of tech workers in the UK would be interested in digital skills training, but many believe there are too many barriers standing in the way.

3. Tech workers seek alternative employment to avoid redundancy

The beginning of the year brought with it uncertainty for those in the tech sector – where previously it was said IT workers were the ones who held the power, 2023 saw a shift towards many tech firms making employees redundant as cost-cutting reduced IT spending.

In a bid to avoid losing their jobs, workers began looking for roles in other companies in case their current jobs were eliminated, with CWJobs finding more than half of IT workers already preparing themselves by looking for new positions.

4. Government urged to address ‘broken’ apprenticeship levy system

One commonly overlooked route into the technology centre is through apprenticeships, but offering apprenticeships is not a simple feat.

In 2017, the government developed the apprenticeship levy to help employers fund training through a contribution and buyback scheme.

But this year, several industry bodies wrote an open letter to the government stating the scheme is not fit for purpose because of restrictions surrounding how the levy contributions can be used, adding yet another barrier for IT skills development in the UK.

5. 01 Founders: the coding course where students teach each other

Another less traditional route into the technology sector is through courses or coding bootcamps, but in 2023, Computer Weekly spoke to a coding bootcamp with a difference.

01 Founders ensures everyone who goes through its programme will go on to find a job in tech, because its applications process is very stringent, ensuring only those with a good mindset and dedication can join the course.

The course is free, open to everyone, and as well as taking part in projects to solidify their knowledge, students often end up teaching each other.

6. Number of girls taking A-level computing still fewer than 3,000

One of the issues commonly cited for a lack of tech skills in the UK is the lack of education in early life about what tech jobs involve, which is still an ongoing issue despite curriculum reform in 2014.

Thankfully this year saw the number of students choosing to take computing at both A-Level and GCSE level rise in comparison with last year, as well as an increase in the number of girls taking computing courses at both levels.

7. Computing degrees more popular due to AI, says BCS

University courses are a popular route into a technology career, despite computer science graduates being some of the least employed in the past.

But this year, BCS found applications to computer science courses at university level were on the rise, mainly due to the widespread introduction of technologies such as artificial intelligence.

As new tech begins to become more widespread, young people become more aware of some of the roles that may be in demand, such as AI, cyber security and data science, and seek out the educational route which will lead them to these future careers.

8. Tech jobs are on the rise, but soft skills are most coveted, says WEF

As some of the fears surrounding mass redundancies began to dissipate, the World Economic Forum found that technology roles will be among the top 10 fastest growing roles over the next 10 years.

Technology is increasingly becoming part of everything we do, and the need for people with the skills to fill technology roles isn’t going away.

WEF found more than 85% of companies claimed the rise in adoption of digital technologies will be a driver for transformation for them going forward.

9. Tech salaries on the rise, says Aspire

Not only are technology jobs on the rise, but so are technology salaries, according to research by Aspire.

The digital and media recruitment firm found salaries increased over the past year for a number of different technology-based roles at varying levels, including QA engineering roles, data analysts and CTO roles.

10. Almost 60% of people seeking a new role are doing so for cash

Salary is an important factor for people looking for a new role, regardless of industry, but the annual Computer Weekly/TechTarget IT salary survey found many of the people in tech currently looking for a new role are doing it to make more money.

This wasn’t the only aspect of the work environment that was important to the tech population – people are looking for inclusive workplaces offering flexibility and skills development.

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