Home Technology Overcoming the tech skills gap

Overcoming the tech skills gap

by jcp

Kevin Hammond, CEO, develop

100,000 new tech jobs have been created in the UK since March 2020 – but organisations are struggling to hire.

94 per cent of tech employees believe there is an industry-wide skills shortage, yet the number of students taking IT-related subjects at GCSE has fallen by 40 per cent in the last six years – increasing future pressures.

If the tech skills gap isn’t closed, it could cost the G20 $11.5 trillion. So how can businesses compete for talent, and what can be done to future proof organisations and the wider industry?

The world’s most in-demand role 

Software Engineer is the most in-demand role in the world, and this is predicted to grow by 21 per cent by 2028. The skills shortage within software engineering is not new but it is growing. The problem is there simply are not enough experienced Software Engineers to keep up with the demand. Only 8 per cent of STEM graduates have a computer science degree, and even then, a degree isn’t always enough.

Those who are qualified need up to date skills. Rapidly changing tech means companies need Software Engineers who can keep up with it. Each line of code typically has a life span of a couple of years, so Software Engineers must constantly refresh their skills and be capable of building new programs – often in new languages – from scratch.

Impact on businesses

On average, it takes businesses 50 per cent longer to hire talent for tech roles compared to other positions.

Being without a Software Engineer can be a real hindrance to a company’s innovation and productivity. It has a detrimental effect on businesses’ growth and makes it harder for organisations to keep up with their competitors.

Businesses must now compete with a greater field for talent. It’s no longer enough to compete on salary, employers must consider the full benefits package, which will include remuneration, flexible working, perks, learning and development, company culture and career prospects – to name but a few!

Make access a priority

Many employers recognise the need to ease the skills gap but it’s not clear where that responsibility lies within the business. It may be seen as something for HR and internal recruitment to consider, but do they have the resource for this? Keeping this in mind when selecting business priorities is key as the benefits to the organisation of easing skills gaps are significant.

Introducing internships to welcome individuals who are ready to learn but lack business experience is a great way of widening your talent pipeline and giving people a taste of the exciting projects and work that they can take on in the sector.

Mentorships and guided programmes also allow Engineers to gain support and guidance from their colleagues, as well as building connections with talent, prioritising retainment, and acknowledging the skills a mentor can learn from their mentee too.

Offer apprenticeships

The current lack of UK STEM skilled workers is costing the nation’s economy £1.5 billion a year, but apprenticeships could help ease this pain point. Work-based learning provides opportunities for businesses to add candidates to their talent pipeline and supports younger people to find work they consider to be meaningful and plug the skills gap as older workers retire or move on.

This is a solution that can support long-term hiring strategies. We can learn a lesson here from the decline in youth employment caused by a lack of junior hiring post-2008 recession. Skills gaps are often cyclical – part of a chain reaction to global events – but they don’t have to be.

Get big industry players involved

Partnering up with leading industry names to deliver training sessions is really useful. Not only does it engage your workforce, but it also shows just how dynamic, varied, and exciting opportunities in software engineering are.

Whether these are delivered as one-off sessions, or built into your apprenticeship, internship or mentoring programmes, the value of learning from experienced industry professionals can’t be ignored. Getting your team involved in pinpointing the sessions they would benefit from – such as inclusion programmes, wellbeing, and technical courses – that support their work is also important in keeping your competitive edge.

Make opportunities clear

Managers play an integral role in motivating employees to learn. Offer incentivised learning pathways for your team and offer recognition to employees when they go above and beyond their role and performance standards.

However, while this growth is exciting for professionals and businesses alike, retaining Software Engineers should also be a top priority. Time and time again, engineers leave their posts for management roles, and some of these may not even be in STEM fields. Although moving into management positions is not uncommon, it’s important that migration occurs within the same industry to ensure that their knowledge, insight, and experience is shared, and their reputation and value-add is maintained.

In setting out clear pathways and providing Engineers with a range of opportunities to work on different projects, and in varied industry verticals, you can keep hold of a thriving pool of pros as there shouldn’t be a ceiling for technical talent.

Focus on learning too

More and more employees are seeking opportunities to learn and develop new skills. For some, this is even becoming more important than the amount of money they take home each month.

Coding, for example, is a lifelong journey. Make continuous learning part of the offer in order to incentivise and introduce more people into the business. With low-code and no-code engineering on the rise, supporting development is crucial to bolster their skills and keep your business competitive. As part of our education, all of our consultants learn to code, using Pluralsight and Udemy to enhance our understanding of the markets, and the skills candidates need.Candidates will need to become agile innovators in their own right. But, supported by a range of business-led initiatives and programmes, building up and maintaining a strong pool of Software Engineer talent is possible.

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