The UK tech talent shortage

TechNation has warned that the UK technology sector currently has a talent shortage which could “stifle growth” – despite the UK Government announcing the latest version of its ‘Digital Strategy’ earlier this month, outlining new measures in its roadmap to strengthen the UK’s global position as a tech superpower.

Additionally, the British Chambers of Commerce has announced that recruitment problems are at record levels, with three out of four companies struggling to hire staff.

Alexia Pedersen, VP of EMEA at O’Reilly commented: “The tech skills deficit is a perpetual issue for employers. Despite the boom in technology-driven organisations, companies struggle to hire young employees with the skills needed to slot into roles quickly and confidently. Universities are not equipping graduates to make the leap into work, while apprenticeships lag in popularity.

“The result is that significant resources are spent by employers upskilling young professionals, who themselves have invested heavily in their education to find that it is not always fit for purpose. This is a problem that has been recognised not only in the technology sector but across industries. Skills-based study, such as apprenticeships, continue to lag, even though they are based on work-ready training principles that are so vital for employers.

“The truth is that if employers want young people to arrive prepared and ready to go, they need to play their part in facilitating the journey — well before their new starter arrives on day one. If employers want to close the skills gap, they must take some responsibility for engaging young people well ahead of the time they make their career decisions.”

Recruitment has also slowed, according to new research from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG. Cybersecurity especially is an industry with a significant existing skills gap. While security professionals may lament the lack of an end in sight to the shortage, they must not lose heart as they maintain defences – especially at a time of heightened alert. Training is vital to this resilience amid a skills gap.

Stephen Jones, Managing Director UK, Ireland & Nordics at SANS Institute, a trusted resource for cyber training, discusses why training is vital amid a critically growing skills gap in cyber.

Stephen said: “It is becoming ever more challenging for organisations to recruit, retain and retrain the right tech talent. When it comes to mounting cyber threats, lack of training investment underscores the latent danger in British industry – UK employers spend just half the European average on training their employees.

“The cybersecurity industry has experienced boundless growth over the past few years, and talent development is still catching up. Creative recruitment can go so far, but there is a talent drought ongoing, so creating a long-term solution for building skills from the ground up is imperative. The right cyber skills will equip businesses to deal with today’s landscape of complex and serious cyber threats.

“Alongside Government-led cyber training initiatives, such as the ‘Skills for Life’ programme, there are methods that leadership can apply to tackle these issues, such as reinvesting back into the existing workforce and providing them with tools for self-development, which are two things that have become more prevalent in the wake of the pandemic.

“This kind of contribution from an employer’s perspective is becoming increasingly important for the Millennial generation, and even more so for the Generation Z workers progressing into professional environments. Training, reskilling, and optimising each employee’s tech proficiency and security awareness should be top-of-mind for both leadership and HR departments.”