Tech skills gap set to narrow

By Huw Martin

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The tech industry across the UK and Europe has long been plagued with headlines about a skills shortage that has caused challenges for recruiting technical teams. This shortage is also thought to be the reason that big companies continue to transfer business to tech hotspots on the other side of the globe such as China and Japan.

The research firm Empirica has predicted that based on current trends, the number of unfilled tech jobs in Europe will reach 756,000 in Europe by 2020 compared with 820,000 in 2015. This ties up with the rise in the number of students expected to graduate with ICT related qualifications despite a decline in this area in previous years.

The same report also estimated that the skills gap is costing the UK economy £10 billion a year as companies cannot fill the roles they need locally.

The UK has already set ambitious targets to tackle the drop in students taking ICT or technology subjects by making computing a compulsory part of school curriculums for children between five and 16 years old. It is hoped that an increased pool of tech talent will ultimately attract inward investment from the organisations with technology as their core business.

The hope for the industry overall is that tech companies might be more likely to consider the UK first when expanding their operations and that will hopefully lead to more opportunities. The news is also a hopeful reminder of what the future might look like for many of the big IT companies already doing business in the UK.

Should we be looking abroad for answers?

Earlier this year it was broadly reported that one in four companies are looking overseas for tech talent. Research, again commissioned by Empirica, indicated that 35% of development solutions roles and 32% of business intelligence and analytics roles are staffed by international applicants.

As tech sector specialist recruiters, this is encouraging news, albeit something that we won’t see the effects of for a few years. As well as increasing basic digital skill levels amongst the whole workforce it is hoped that the educational drive will increase the number of specialists, especially those in highest demand such as software developers.

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