Businesses still suffer negative effects of IT skills gap

Despite optimism, UK businesses are still feeling effects of IT skills gap finds CompTIA report

UK businesses are suffering the effects of the IT skills gap, according to a report from CompTIA.

In a survey of 1,507 IT executives, the International Technology Adoption and Workforce Trends Study results showed that despite 55% of employers saying they are exactly at or close to where they want to be with closing the skills gap, 44% said staff productivity had been affected.

Furthermore, 30% said customer services suffered from insufficient skills and 27% said slow speed to market had affected their business. Over a quarter (26%) reported damage to innovation and new product development.

“This report proves UK IT companies are struggling to fill vacancies with suitable candidates,” said Rob Partridge, head of the BT Security Academy. 

“We see a significant talent shortage and have been proactively providing educational materials for schools and developing national IT talent competitions to help address this problem.

“The IT industry needs to consider looking beyond university degrees and attracting and developing talent through vocational qualifications, new forms of online learning and apprenticeships,” he said. 

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Mike Brooman, director at Vanti, a Birmingham-based audiovisual and IT consultancy, said there is little surprise in the survey results. 

“We have experienced problems finding skilled staff, despite the reported youth unemployment in our city,” said Brooman. 

“With such a disruptive IT market, it is difficult for the education sector to keep up with the pace of technological innovation on its own. We are testing a number of alternative hiring routes, including apprenticeships and industry certifications, so we can train people to our standards in-house rather than try to compete in an over-inflated and ill-equipped graduate market,” he said. 

Despite the negative figures, 62% of UK executives said they are expecting 2015 business conditions to improve from 2014.

In addition, 28% revealed plans to hire more IT staff this year, up from 19% in 2014.

Over half (58%) cited IT security as their top technology priority over the next 12 months and 63% said they believe the cyber security threat is increasing.

“Businesses of all types and sizes recognise that IT is a critically important factor to success,” said Estelle Johannes, UK director for member communities at CompTIA. “Despite this, the skills gap remains an ongoing challenge. The results demonstrate the need for more attention to this issue.

“The impact of the skills gap threatens the livelihood of businesses across the country, from information security to customer service. More needs to be done to tackle this growing problem. But building and managing talent requires concerted effort, resources and time. There is rarely a quick fix to addressing skills gaps,” she said.

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