Is There A Tech Skills Apocalypse On The Horizon For The UK?
With Brexit looming and the UK’s tech skills shortage expected to worsen, the confidence from both employer and employee in filling that gap is extremely low.
Whilst the technology market is thriving, the industry is also faced with a distinct sector-specific skills gaps. Over 70% of technology employers are experiencing a tech skills shortage this year, according to a new report by Robert Walters in collaboration with Jobsite and totaljobs.
With Brexit on the horizon this shortage is expected to worsen according to the report, with 89% of tech professionals believing that the UK will not be able to compete on a global scale and over half blaming Brexit as the main culprit.
Post-Brexit, the study results suggested that the regions which would suffer the greatest tech skills shortage would be Yorkshire at 73%, London at 62% and the North of England at 54%. This would only worsen as the access to talent from abroad would dry up after Britain leaves the EU.
Greater Demand for Data Skills
According to CTOs taking the survey, Cyber Security, Data Management and Software Development are the most sought after skills this year but all recognised that the time taken to recruit candidates successfully took too long, meaning top talent were usually lost to a competitor. This was also recently echoed in another survey which highlighted that Scottish tech firms faced the same hurdle, 82% of candidates were put off applying for roles that had overly lengthy or complex application processes.
The skills gap has widened between junior roles and these sought after positions due to the acceleration in technology progress in areas such as machine learning and real-time data analysis, meaning those on the lowest career rung of the ladder would face disruption from these emerging technologies. 6 million workers in the UK recently stated they were worried about the threat of AI taking their jobs in a recent YouGov study.
More than half of employers find that candidates lack the right technical skills necessary for technology positions, concluded the report.
Ahsan Iqbal, director of Robert Walters Manchester, said “While we are seeing a growing number of young people entering the field with a wide range of skill sets, the legacy of the 2008 financial crisis is creating ongoing challenges for employers.
“Junior-level hiring dropped significantly during the recession, and this has created a skills bottleneck at the mid-level today, with an insufficient number of professionals with the required experience available to meet demand.”
Basic Skills Still Lacking, Greater Emphasis on Transferable Skills Needed
In a separate report by the ONS (Office for National Statistics), 30% of Brits believe they do not possess the computing skills required to do their jobs. This is especially worrying in the light of advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence which are expected to disrupt low-level job roles like data processing and first line call centre positions. Of those aged 16 to 24 years, 51% had needed to learn how to use new software in the last 12 months to do their jobs.
Martin Talbot, director at Totaljobs, said “It is important for employers to remember the value of technology professionals’ transferable skills, including project and programme management, as well as strong interpersonal skills when recruiting.”
Almost two-thirds of technology professionals think employers should be more open to transferable skills and promote their opportunities to professionals in other industries.