Tackling the Skills Gap

Tackling the Skills Gap: How to recruit IT talent

Innovation is critical to the technology industry. But over the past few years, the advancement of technology has faced one major roadblock – the availability of skilled workers. And it’s only set to get more difficult to find the talent you need.

We’re going to be looking at what the skills gap really means, how it may be affecting you and what you can do to protect your teams.

What do we mean when we talk about the ‘Skills Gap’?

Although some form of skills gap has been identified in many sectors, technology is the one area it seems to have had the most impact. This may be down to the fact that its an area that changes rapidly, requires specialist knowledge and hasn’t previously received enough attention in the education system.

Reports from 2017 show that an estimated 1.4 million computing/ engineering jobs would need to be filled by 2020 in the UK, with only 400,000 computer science graduates expected to emerge during that time.

In the US, the Bureau of labour statistics has estimated a need for 100,000 new IT workers every year for the next decade. There are currently only 60,000 entering the workforce every year.

Put simply, the level of skills, experience and expertise of jobseekers does not match the requirements of employers. In fact, job ads have been found to list an average of 16.7 hard skills, with resumes listing only an average of only 9.8.

Skills such as cybersecurity, web development, programming and coding are in short supply. But what has caused these areas to experience such a gap?

What has caused this shortage?

Education

Surveys have shown that 60% of companies are looking for coding skills when hiring entry level graduates for IT positions. And while these skills are now being taught in schools to children as young as 5, this is a fairly new introduction in most UK and US syllabuses.

Training

Due to the speed at which technology develops, skills barely stay current for even a few years. With employers reluctant to invest in training, it can become impossible for workers to maintain the level of expertise they need.

Salaries

Salaries for highly sought after skilled roles are increasing, with the best talent commanding a salary that is out of reach for most small companies. This makes the challenge of finding and retaining talent even greater for SME’s.

Brexit

For the UK, Brexit has already begun to have an impact on the skills gap. Applications for tech positions dropped around 10% in the first quarter of 2017 alone. With negotiations dragging out and the future uncertain, skilled workers from the EU are reluctant to take the risk.

What is the effect of this skill shortage?

On a team level, a skills gap can have a significant impact on your business, from a drop in productivity and innovation, poor customer service or even a full roadblock on a projects completion.

You may also notice that a skills gap will increase the stress on the rest of the team, as they are forced to work harder to cover the missing skills. This could have a knock on effect on your staff retention, workplace environment and overall employee well being.

Finding Talent

So what should employers be doing? The first thing employers must do is to look back at their own approach to recruiting technical talent.

As specialists in technical recruitment, we see a trend in the way that employers search for skilled workers. Typically, a hiring manager or HR department will put together a job description, listing skills and the tools they will require the new recruit to use.

However, the huge number of tools and systems available means that finding a highly skilled worker with exactly the right combination of tools and experience becomes incredibly unlikely.

Further to this, for highly specialised roles where the work may be intense but infrequent, many companies create a dual role, making it even more difficult to find an individual with the right mix of skills.

The reality is that a worker with good technology experience and the right attitude will quickly be able to pick up any tools that they haven’t used before, as they’ve likely used something very similar.

A key issue is that HR teams or recruitment firms may not have the depth of knowledge to recognise these similarities, and so may overlook potential candidates due to a missing skill on their CV.

It’s understandable that when employing highly paid tech talent, taking any risks with their skills can be daunting. But a flexible approach to recruitment can pay off in the long run.

As well as providing training for new staff in areas that are essential to you, you can also look at external support solutions to provide a safety net. At ClearHub, this is already built into our offering.

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The Skills Gap Strategy: Checklist and Guide

Business priorities in constant flux? Does this cause a lack of team productivity?

Our checklist includes five key takeaways you can use to optimise team performance and crush the competition by getting your products to market first.

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