How's the UK Upskilling to Close the Skills Gap?

Ruth Ng

Ruth Ng

6 min read

The technology world is dynamic, and as a result, demand for tech skills is skyrocketing. Organisations are increasingly seeking high-calibre tech professionals to provide crucial in-house functions. While the UK IT industry is thriving, the market faces an acute shortage of skills: according to the Harvey Nash Group survey.

Machine learning, data science, programming languages, AI, big data, and cybersecurity are among the most needed skills in the technology world. However, the UK does not have enough specialists ready to fill these well-paying jobs. But with the right effort and approaches, this dilemma can be fixed.

Before delving into viable solutions, let’s dive to explore what causes undersupply of technical skills.

Possible Causes of Tech Skills Shortage in the UK

Companies’ Failure to Support Professional Development

About 84% of employees upskill themselves, while slightly above 30% of IT employers provide development and training support. It means many professionals are juggling between work and studies. The necessary IT skills are not being taught internally, and employees don’t feel appreciated and invested. As a result, workers tend to look for challenges elsewhere.

Strict Hiring Standards

Some employers in the UK are too selective. For example, you may find some organisations prioritise candidates with specific academic credentials. But, unfortunately, most employers miss people with the necessary soft tech skills, desire, and aptitude.

The lengthy recruitment is another excellent challenge faced by job seekers. Almost 50% think the cumbersome recruitment process deter top-notch professionals from applying for IT positions in the future. Besides the hiring process, most organisations do not meet the salary demands from technical professionals like data scientists or software developers.

The Dynamic IT Landscape

The ever-changing technology world constantly creates a gap between the number of qualified personnel and new hot skill. According to government estimates, automation is killing about 1.5 million jobs in the UK.

Sluggish Education System

Technology dynamism and innovation are fast-tracking in a way that seems impossible to keep up with. Fewer people think that STEM education in the UK is above average.

Solving Shortage of IT Skills in the UK

Digital growth has been drastic across the country. London is recorded to have the highest plea and supply of digital skills compared to other regions in the UK. Due to this imbalance, the nation can experience inequalities and low productivity. The government, organisations, and population ensure the IT skills demand is met, and the balance is maintained. So what are the viable solutions?

1. Up skilling the IT Workforce

The rapid technological change needs upskilling for IT workers. The Covid-19 only compounded the problem. IT leaders also need to create new positions to accommodate more professionals in the industry.

IT training and development schemes provide a win-win situation for both employers and workers.  The program helps professionals hone their skills and allow CIOs to solve the skills gaps. In addition, high technical training is viewed as a vital tool for employee retention.

Certifications, external and internal training, events, and conferences are all critical for IT departments. Companies should also adopt individual development training for each employee to help them define their career paths.

Technology conferences keep staff accustomed to the latest IT developments. That is why industry-specific events are recommended. A company can offer internal training that focuses on specific vendors, platforms, and technologies.

2. Learning Additional IT Skills

The dynamic world of IT demands an ever-learning professional. However, having an IT degree is not enough. The technological world is broad, and there is a myriad of directions you can take. These additional skills help you fit in the modern world and still prepare you for the future. Sharpen your IT skills by taking a course in:

  • AI Artificial Intelligence is in demand since there are not enough professionals in that field. It’s a future-proofed skill that cannot be outdated.
  • Cybersecurity – Cybersecurity is incredibly essential for every business- small and massive conglomerates. With hackers and malware virus attacks, businesses are investing hugely in cybersecurity.
  • Software DevelopmentThe increasing number of apps and mobiles has boosted the demand for software developers. You can learn Java and SQL to become a knowledgeable software developer.
  • Data Science – Becoming a data scientist helps you interpret and analyse data for companies. The analysis help organisations make critical business decisions.

3. Promoting Tech Careers

Technology is an integral part of public and private spheres. Businesses are banking on technology innovations, from the Internet of things to AI, renewable energy, and 3D printing. In addition, technology dictates how much employees engage with clients, the business operates, and data management. Therefore, embracing technology will ensure there is enough task force to handle IT-related operations.

Government should also encourage IT learning in all educational disciplines. After all, IT is being applied in all sectors, from health to education, banking, agriculture, and printing.

4. Investing in Emerging Technology

The UK is among the largest economies, and it’s experiencing rapid technological growth. Although digital development has not reached its full potential, the nation is already experiencing skills shortages.

Investing in emerging technology opens many opportunities for IT specialities. The diversification provides excellent exposure to local economies.

5. Flexible Recruitment Process

For the longest time, the IT recruitment process in the UK has been quite technical, lengthy, and can disappoint. With these stringent measures, most professionals shudder from applying for the advertised job position. Thus, creating skills shortages.

While it’s okay to be specific about what the organisation is looking for, it’s also advisable to be flexible. It’s time employers change their approach, and it can change the entire process. Instead of picking a candidate based on the resume, you can ask them about their interest in IT fields. Are they willing to learn further if the company offers an opportunity?

Are they in the IT field by default, or is it their passion?  Is the candidate apprised with the trendy technology news?

Take Away

The imbalanced demand and supply of technical skills in the UK should be a concern. Businesses are facing triple troubles in upscaling their ventures. But with the above approaches, the nation can overcome the challenge and catch up with technology advancement demand.

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