What’s the biggest issue facing the UK economy?
According to a leading tech recruitment firm, it’s a digital skills shortage.
In a report entitled ‘The UK is heading towards a digital skills shortage disaster’, Cloud Assembly cites statistics suggesting that 80% of UK business leaders believe that digital skills are key to our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
But despite the importance of digital skills to the UK economy, 69% of business leaders believe that their firm is experiencing a digital skills gap.
So what does the tech marketplace look like today, and what will it look like after COVID-19?
The Tech Industry and COVID-19
Despite the global turmoil, a number of sectors have remained steady – and chief among them is tech.
In fact, the pandemic has presented many tech firms with the opportunity to improve their remote working ecosystems. So, having retained their workers, they’re ready to face the future.
All of this means that the tech talent pool is more competitive than ever.
Cloud Assembly found that before COVID-19, job-hopping was rife in the industry; over half of survey respondents admitted to searching for new opportunities even after having received a solid job offer.
But post-pandemic, the report indicates that candidates are now significantly more likely to hold onto secure work.
With candidates looking to stick around and companies looking to keep them, it’s as challenging as it’s ever been to source the best tech professionals.
So what does the report conclude to be the main challenges when recruiting qualified tech talent?
1. Tech Professionals Enjoy Working Remotely
Remote working has increased all over the globe. You might even be reading this article while working from home.
And it was rising prior to the pandemic.
The key statistics cited by Cloud Assembly are:
- According to The FlexJobs Remote Work Statistics for 2019 report, the remote workforce had grown by 44% over the last five years.
- Now, McKinsey forecasts that we can expect between four and five times more remote work than before the pandemic.
And it seems that tech professionals welcome the change. In fact, employees would actually sacrifice other benefits to secure more remote work. Cloud Assembly concluded that a significant 54% of respondents would be willing to move to another company to increase their ability to work flexibly!
All of this means that a failure to offer adequate flexible working will put firms at a severe disadvantage; especially when competing with companies that can now recruit from all across the globe.
2. The Market Is Highly Competitive
What does the balance between open vacancies and number of engineers look like?
Cloud Assembly reports that as of 2019, there were approximately 24 million software engineers globally. They listed ten top global firms as putting out 43,480 job listings for new software engineers in the same year.
Those vacancies represent 0.2% of all software engineers. The competition, in other words, is fierce.
And whether it’s career progression or salaries, these large firms are best placed to scoop up new talent.
Just imagine how competitive it is for small- and medium-sized firms.
3. Candidates Lack Formal Training
The report also concluded that skills shortages and training are the two primary obstacles faced by recruiters attempting to fill tech roles.
They cited the annual 2020 Harvey Nash / KPMG CIO Survey, which pinpointed some specific skills that employees are lacking; including coding, data analytics, and cloud computing.
What makes so many professionals lack these vital skills?
And while their dedication to their craft is impressive, a lack of formal training can leave large holes in a candidate’s knowledge.
4. Developers Know Their Value
Despite the turmoil of the pandemic, developers have largely remained unruffled. According to the report, when asked how easy it would be to change jobs in 2020 and 2021, respondents gave an average answer of 7 out of 10 in both years.
Why are developers so confident?
Because they know their worth. Remote working has opened up a world of opportunity, and demand is higher than ever.
5. Recruiters & Developers Value Things Differently
Cloud Assembly also argues that HR professionals and developers often have different views on work priorities.
They refer to a graph by CodinGame that outlines the large gaps between what developers value and what HR professionals think they value.
In many cases, recruiters and developers aren’t singing from the same hymn sheet.
But you’ll only attract the best of the best if you understand their needs and priorities.
Those are the primary challenges facing tech recruiters and employers.
What are the solutions that Cloud Assembly recommends to overcome these challenges?
1. Embrace Remote Working
The pandemic has offered a taste of home working, and there’s no going back. Tech employees now have the expectation and desire to work remotely. If you want to hire top candidates, you need to move with the times.
Flexible or remote working is highly attractive to prospective employees, so offer it.
2. Scour the Globe
Relatedly, the wide-scale opening up of work means that you can now have your pick of candidates from all over the world.
Combined with remote working, even small organisations can open their doors to a global crop of candidates. This will also allow you to cherry-pick the skills and experiences you want in an employee.
3. Identify Talent, Then Train
The report found that self-taught developers are often bursting with talent but lack formal training in some key areas.
Identifying those with the room to grow is essential; orient your interview process around your candidates’ potential, then invest in training programmes to fill in the gaps.
4. Acknowledge Your Candidates’ Worth
The hiring process is a two-way street. Talent competes, but firms do too. A good recruiter keeps in mind that their candidates are valuable assets.
Offer an attractive package of benefits to stand out from your competitors. Most of all, listen to your employees. Assess what they need, then give it to them.
5. Draw on Specialist Knowledge
The tech sector is highly competitive. So if you’re looking to hire the best, draw on the insight of tech recruitment specialists.
Immersed in their industry, specialists know exactly what top talent values, and how best to appeal to them.
By keeping your employees happy, you’ll ensure a more stable and harmonious work environment.