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Fixing the UK’s tech talent shortage

Thu 4 May 2023

The technology sector in the UK plays an essential role in the wider economic system, helping drive growth and job creation. Home to more than 100 unicorn start-ups valued over $1 billon and a tech industry valued at $1 trillion in total, the UK is a global leader in tech.

However, the digital skills shortage is an acute problem, with research from job search engine Adzuna finding that there has been an over 1000% increase in demand for data skills since 2019 and tech job vacancies in the UK have reached a 10-year high.

The difficulty in filling skilled tech jobs can lead to lower levels of innovation and challenges around embracing digital projects. More than two-thirds of senior technology leaders say that the skills shortage is making it difficult for firms to stay up-to-date in the rapidly changing digital environment, according to data from Harvey Nash.

Actionable solutions

There are numerous ways to address the tech skills shortage. From upskilling current staff, improving the tech talent pipeline,to encouraging the learning of tech skills and embracing automation.

As the technology space is constantly changing, even a relatively short career break can lead to missing out on important new innovations. Returnship programmes are an effective method to support tech professionals who have taken a career break and want to return to the workforce. These returnships are now offered by a wide range of firms, including Accenture, Entain and Amazon, where the paid programmes take around 16 weeks and sets the returner up for a tech job after completion.

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Immediate action

There is no sign that the talent shortage will ease in the near future. In fact, the problem is expected to get worse.

Enterprises who are committed to innovation will need to refocus towards finding ways to resolve the skills gap. A combination of short-term solutions and longer-term initiatives are necessary to ensure innovative digital technologies can be adopted.

In situations where specific tech skills are required immediately for a project, tapping into the freelance workforce can be a useful course of action. More and more skilled tech staff are going freelance and can be brought on board at short notice without a complex hiring process.

In the longer term, there is no substitute for educating more younger people in a range of technology verticals. Upskilling staff who show an aptitude for technology is another potential option to bridge the skills gap.

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