UK Tech Talent Shortage: What are businesses doing about It?

August 28, 2018

Recently, the Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD) released figures showing a dramatic 95% decline in the number of EU-born workers moving to the UK in the first quarters of 2017-2018, with only 7,000 compared to 148,000 over the same period last year.

With a possible hard Brexit looming over Britain, paired with an increase in the cost of living, many skilled EU workers are beginning to think again about a move to the UK. As this decline takes place, the UK’s skills shortage continues to widen, particularly within technology.

What are governments doing to tackle skills shortages?

Some government initiatives have attempted to bridge this widening skills gap. The introduction of the apprenticeship levy in 2017 applied to companies with an annual pay bill of £3 million, with the tax available to pay for apprenticeship training, in the hope of encouraging an increase in apprenticeships.

Other initiatives such as the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce sponsored Cornwall and Isle of Scilly Growth Hub have helped businesses to address their own skills shortages. Outside of the UK, government initiatives to tackle skills shortages have included Singapore’s SkillsFuture programme, which encourages residents to take courses and expand their skills and knowledge.

UK Tech Talent Shortage

The UK’s skills shortages are impacting upon the UK tech sector significantly. With only 11% of UK tech employers believing the UK can compete globally, this skills gap is a grave concern. The Edge Foundation reported in July that the UK was losing £63 billion a year due to unfilled job roles in the digital sector. 

Some UK tech firms have attempted to tackle such shortages by launching their own apprenticeship schemes. Northcoders, a Manchester software development firm, has also encouraged similar businesses to begin software development apprenticeship schemes.

Meanwhile, DevOpsGroup, a leading global organisation for DevOps engineering consultancy and training,launched their own Academy last month, with a mission to resolve the UK’s tech skill woes.

Despite these efforts, there are boundless opportunities for the UK government and businesses to take responsibility for additional skills gaps.

More must be done

While the above initiatives are positive, more needs to be done in the UK to address talent shortages, particularly within its technology sector. It is easy to blame the UK government; Brexit discussions have been far from productive and schemes such as the apprenticeship levy, while there to encourage businesses to offer apprenticeships, often put employers off due to inflexibility and off-the-job requirements.

The UK curriculum has attempted to stem some skills gaps with the introduction of a computer science GCSE. An increase in the provision of such classes is commended and will make headway in the long-run. However, the UK drastically needs short-term solutions.

The apprenticeship levy, despite valid criticism, is currently underused by UK businesses. While short-term expenses can put employers off, businesses should take responsibility to tackle their own skills gaps by utilising the opportunities available through this levy. 

However, the UK government must also take action. The introduction of a digital apprenticeship scheme from 2019 may be promising, but its delayed introduction to small businesses until 2020 should be resolved.

If both UK businesses and the government work collaboratively, skills gaps can be closed, providing a better future for the UK and its workforce.

Harvey Nash and its Future Skills programme

Harvey Nash Group have partnered with Corndel, professional development experts, to utilise the opportunity available through the apprenticeship levy, to offer software development apprenticeship schemes through its Future Skills programme.

In just 12 weeks, this programme will be capable of producing project-ready software developers. Through offering these roles, Harvey Nash Group will become pioneers in the upskilling of the UK, helping it to drastically tackle its tech talent shortage, and ensure the future remains bright for the UK tech sector.

If you would like more information on the Future Skills programme, please contact Harvey Nash Recruitment Solutions.

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