Collaboration vs competition: Tackling the IT skills shortage

By Calum Peterson

Photo by Highways Agency
Photo by Highways Agency

It is no big secret – and it is definitely a subject that has been well documented – the UK is experiencing and will continue to experience a major IT skills shortage. There are currently 5000 fewer IT candidates than required in the UK and a report from O2 in 2013 suggested that 745,000 additional resources with digital skills will be needed between now and 2017. What is obvious is that a lot more resources and money needs to be pumped into the education sector to try to prevent the shortage from getting any worse. A recent survey revealed that 60% of teachers do not feel confident delivering a new curriculum on ICT. Out of 250 teachers surveyed by Ocado, 73% feel they do not have the right resources – including training!

However, why does it all fall to our teachers? What can the industry do itself to address this skill shortage?

What I want to look at is how organisations can work together to combat the skills shortage – doing this by having a greater influence in the education and development of new talent. Why don’t those who are going to need the skilled candidates place more influence on creating the new talent, as opposed to fighting against each other to attract the limited number that are out there? Organisations have and always will want to attract the best talent to their organisation, but as a result the recruitment focus is on how they can attract the best candidates by offering bigger remuneration packages and benefits, as opposed to creating a bigger pool.

It seems to be a short-term fix for a long-term problem.

I want organisations to look more long term and work collaboratively in up-skilling our current education sector, I want organisations to look more long term and work collaboratively in up-skilling our current education sector, which, therefore, increases the pool and quality. A prime example of organisations working together for the greater good is StartEDIN, something which I am very proud to say Head Resourcing is a founding member of. You can read more about why the StartEDIN initiative was created here, but the main point is that the four founding organisations realised that by investing and collaborating they would together make a far bigger positive impact, have a greater influence, and a better chance of delivering their desired goal; attracting the best IT talent to Edinburgh.The key is in getting some conversations around a table. This in itself isn’t a solution, but it’s a start.

The key is in getting some conversations around a table. This in itself isn’t a solution, but it’s a start.

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