- Fotolia

Three-quarters of women in tech think workplace flexibility is key to retention

Women in the UK technology industry believe flexible working and career development opportunities are the key to retaining workers

A large majority of women in the UK technology industry think companies could improve employee retention by offering remote working and flexibility.

Research by recruitment firm Robert Walters found 76% of women in tech believe flexible working encourages staff to stay with a firm longer, and 72% said career development opportunities are a key priority for a job role.

Almost 70% of all IT professionals, men and women, agree that allowing employees to work from home or be away from the office improves retention.

Dawn May, manager at Robert Walters, said the current skills shortage in the technology industry should encourage firms to offer flexible working to retain talented staff.

“The flexibility these policies afford staff is a powerful draw for top talent and employers should consider whether they can introduce or expand these policies within their own organisation to secure the best professionals,” said May.

The IT industry is currently suffering a skills gap, and it is expected that 756,000 digital roles in Europe will remain unfilled by 2020.

Almost 60% of IT hiring managers claim to have fallen foul of the skills shortage when looking to recruit new IT professionals, and 62% of hiring managers think it will be hard to find candidates with the right skills over the next year.

Last year, 74% of IT professionals said not being able to find suitable candidates was a barrier to recruitment.

As the number of high-profile cyber attacks and the need for better customer service have increased, so has the need for both cyber security and data science professionals.

Just over half of IT professionals think cyber security skills will see the biggest growth in demand over the next year, while 36% think business intelligence and data management skills will be more in demand.

Read more about IT jobs

  • More assistance should be given to teachers to encourage children into Stem careers, says Ada College head of computer science.
  • It looked for a while that CDOs would replace CIOs, but organisations are realising that what they need is a mix of both technology roles.

As firms go digital, 35% of IT professionals think development and digital skills will be in high demand over the next year.

Once companies have found the staff they need, 56% of managers believe a strong leadership approach, alongside clearly defined goals, is the best way to retain staff in the long run, and 44% think mentoring programmes can help to keep staff.

May added: “As the UK tech industry continues to grow, employers are likely to face growing skills shortages. Attracting professionals and retaining them long term is a challenge that managers will have to address if their organisation is to achieve sustainable growth.”

But many IT managers are turning to contractors and non-permanent staff to fill skills gaps, despite 47% of hiring managers expecting to increase their hiring volumes this year.

IT hiring managers plan to use a mix of permanent hires, contractors and consultancies to fill roles, but more IT managers expect to use contractors in 2017 than did so last year.

Junior IT staff are most in demand, with 57% of hiring managers aiming to increase the number of junior or graduate staff hired over the next year.

Almost 40% expect to hire mid-level professionals, and only 17% expect to increase the volume of senior management hires in the next year.

But although 77% of senior IT professionals think the workloads of IT teams will increase in 2017, 50% expect to distribute more of this work across their existing teams as well as hire new staff, putting more pressure on the IT remit in future.

Read more on IT jobs and recruitment