How the tech skills gap affects your business

Companies of all sizes risk stagnation if they ignore the importance of technology skills

Much has been written recently about the tech skills gap worsened by the pandemic. Back in March 2021, the BBC reported that the UK is heading towards a “digital skills shortage disaster”.

What many people fail to realise is that it’s a problem that affects businesses of all sizes – not just those with computing at their heart.

Retail. Education. Medical. Finance. Construction. Insurance. Businesses across all industries are finding new ways to utilise technology, data science and automation. They achieve great things with these tools, but it has also created a tech skills gap. If this gap is left unchecked, businesses will be forced to scrap projects integral to their growth plans.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to future-proof your business.

First, what is the tech skills gap?

Simply put, the individuals entering the tech industry do not have the skills that modern companies require. There is a gap between what is being taught to them and what will be asked of them in a professional environment.

Tech skills gap statistics

  • Tech companies report a 65% skills gap, more than doubled the 28% of non-tech companies (WiFiTalents)
  • 98% of CEOs believe the skills hap threatens their business (WiFiTalents)
  • 67% of senior technology leaders cite lack of skills as a reason why their companies are falling behind the pace of change (Nash Squared)
  • 95% of technology managers struggle to find skilled talent (Robert Half)

Why does the gap exist?

Our education system has failed to recognise the importance of technology skills used across businesses today. It’s one thing to marvel about kids building apps and using tablets in their classrooms when you had to settle for dusty desktops and Microsoft Access. It’s another when you look at the university level of education that is meant to prepare the next generation of talent to enter the workforce. Sadly, the most exciting and rapidly evolving areas of tech are under-represented in higher education, including:

  • Mobile application development
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  • IT security
  • Cloud technologies

University courses provide a solid foundation of IT knowledge. However, graduates quickly face roles that require vendor or coding language-specific certifications. Young people are already under tremendous financial pressure when they leave university and promising talent can be discouraged from or simply unable to undertake this next stage of learning. This is something our own Ten10 Academy tackles head-on by providing accommodation and wellbeing support to all attendees while they undertake training through us.

Many young people don’t even get this far – they aren’t introduced to the wide range of possibilities that IT has to offer because their family, teachers and support network come from more traditional employment backgrounds. You need only look at the fact that STEM courses are still dominated by men and female attendance of these courses has stagnated since 2015. We’re proud to say we also combat this – 41% of Ten10 Academy Engineers are women.

How does it affect your business?

Not having adequate new talent entering the tech industry puts increased pressure on companies to retain their talent. Continuity is an invaluable factor in keeping the software and operations side of a business running smoothly. Lead developers can rarely be simply ‘plugged in’ when a new hire is needed, meaning the established staff who built and maintain your systems are worth their weight in gold.

The problem is when large companies expand they look to hire the best and brightest people available. That means other organisations are prime targets to be raided. Larger companies can usually offer larger salaries and greater staff benefits to poach talent from competitors. The pandemic also showed how productive and cost-effective remote work can be – so you may lose staff to a company in an entirely different city.

You may find yourself caught between a rock and a hard place:

  • The rock: new talent lacking the expertise you need
  • The hard place: struggling to retain your experienced staff

What skills are most in demand?

Contractors have always been available for organisations to flexibly scale up their work, but the tech skills gap has led to a greater reliance on IT contractors. Even if you find contractors who can complete your work and are dependable, long engagements can become incredibly expensive and when they end, your organisation loses a subject matter expert who has created solutions that you depend upon – getting new staff or even new contractors familiar with the specifications and limitations of those solutions takes a great deal of time. Contractors can be good short-term solutions, but they aren’t a replacement for growing a flexible and experience internal team.

By analysing this demand and the skills listed on advertised contract job vacancies (provided by ITJobsWatch), we can see which solutions organisations are struggling with the most.

Most in-demand tech skills

  1. DevOps (9.26%)
  2. Project Management (8.19%)
  3. CI/CD (5.97%)
  4. Analytics (4.90%)
  5. Change Management (4.59%)
  6. Business Intelligence (4.58%)
  7. Software Engineering (4.31%)
  8. Cybersecurity (4.22%)
  9. Project Delivery (4.17%)
  10. Data Modelling (3.89%)

Most in-demand tech platforms

  1. Azure (14.65%)
  2. AWS (10.85%)
  3. SAP (6.39%)
  4. Active Directory (5.75%)
  5. Oracle (5.35%)
  6. Microsoft 365 (5.11%)
  7. JIRA (4.49%)
  8. .NET (4.09%)
  9. Kubernetes (4.05%)
  10. Jenkins (2.43%)

Most in-demand programming languages

  1. SQL (10.43%)
  2. Python (9.67%)
  3. Java (5.94%)
  4. JavaScript (5.07%)
  5. C# (4.66%)
  6. PowerShell (3.47%)
  7. TypeScript (2.47%)
  8. C++ (1.80%)

Most in-demand soft skills

What you may be surprised to learn is the most in-demand skill across all contractor vacancies: soft skills.

Beyond all programming languages, technical specialities, sector knowledge, and platform experience, ‘soft skills’ was listed on a table-topping 21.64% of job vacancies. This highlights the importance of finding not only knowledgeable talent but also people who are the right cultural fit for your organisation. Among those contract job vacancies, the most in-demand soft skills were:

  1. Problem-Solving (10.40%)
  2. Analytical Skills (7.75%)
  3. Mentoring (2.81%)
  4. Presentation Skills (2.10%)
  5. Collaborative Working (1.88%)
  6. Organisational Skills (1.83%)
  7. Coaching (1.79%)

U.S. employers

Research from Robert Half shows that U.S. tech employers are struggling most to find skilled talent in these five areas:

  • Cloud architecture and operation
  • Security, privacy and compliance
  • Software and application development
  • Technology process automation
  • Data science and database administration

So what is the solution to the tech skills gap?

Assess your current systems

You need to know what specialisations your business relies on the most. Then you can determine how difficult it is to grow or replace members of your IT team. Just think: there are thousands of new graduates every year, but how many of them could you hire based on your current system requirements? The more specialised your systems, the harder it is to find the right fit for your team.

Prioritise training and development

Emphasising continuous learning has a proven ability to help retain talent. HR news reported that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if the business was investing in their career development. This doesn’t always mean staff completing online courses – you may be surprised just what your team can achieve if you give them the space, security and budget to experiment on their own projects between their work.

Get long-term support

Many people approach consultants when they have a problem. This may help deliver a standalone project but will only delay the effects of the technology skills gap. You need to work with a company that can keep your long-term success in mind and provide both advice and talent you can utilise. That talent needs to be diverse and confront the gender and racial biases that can limit the culture of a modern workforce.

Eliminate your tech skills gap with the Ten10 Academy

We’ve been helping businesses affected by the tech skills gap for more than a decade. Learn more about the Ten10 Academy to learn how we can help you grow your tech team and supply the tech talent you need today and for tomorrow.