What is causing the critical skills gap in the IT industry?
The tech industry is still going through the motions of a critical skills gap that has no signs of decreasing in size any time soon.
There’s an average of 2 million tech jobs available, with 1.2 million IT job adverts live online. With this in mind, it’s difficult for many to understand why there’s an employment crisis because the jobs are there, ready and waiting.
It’s more than likely that you’ve heard us or others discuss the UK workforce skills gap. In fact, 9 in 10 UK employers definitely or probably have heard something about UK workforce skills gap during the last 2 years. With 53% of UK employers reportedly feeling concerned about the skills gap, a surprising 16% do not have any form of strategy in place to work towards tackling it.
Why is this and what is causing the skills gap? We’ve explored a number of contributing factors towards the continued growth in the skills gap for the tech industry. There’s more to this issue than meets the eye.
Soft skills gap
When people think of the tech industry skills gap, they automatically think about how people are lacking the technical skills to successfully enter the industry and the efforts that employers will need to put towards training in order to get new employees up-to-date with the industry. But what about the soft skills?
There are a number of soft skills that contribute to a person being the perfect candidate for working in the tech industry, including communication and research skills. These are being underestimated by both individuals and employers, but the blame doesn’t fall solely on recruiters.
This issue is rooted much earlier than the recruitment process. The October 2018 UK Skills Gap CompTIA survey showed that 87% of participants agree that “primary and secondary schools are not sufficiently preparing students for today’s jobs”. There are many dangerous misconceptions surrounding the tech industry that are being installed in the younger generation, most surprisingly that if they’re not naturally talented at maths, science and general tech, then the industry as a whole isn’t for them. There’s a particular over emphasis on maths, leading to 50% of people having concerns over skills deficiencies and resulting in them not pursuing a career in tech.
Addressing the confidence gap must be part of the conversation when talking about the critical skills gap in the tech industry. This strongly links with the issues raised regarding the soft skills gap, as the feelings of not being good enough to enter the industry result in a lack of self confidence, stopping people in their tracks to getting into tech.
The main concerns that are making people think twice about chasing a career in tech includes:
- Skills deficiencies
- Fear of starting too far behind
- Fear of failure
- Fear of unknown
- Lack of 4 year degree
There is an overwhelming amount of research that suggests that the confidence gap doesn’t affect everyone going in to the tech industry. Specifically, it’s affecting women the most. Studies suggest that women are much more likely than men to deem themselves unqualified when job searching, leaving women underconfident to apply and change their careers to pursue their dreams in tech. This ultimately results in a lack of representation and diversity within the industry.
Which leads us nicely to our next point.
A lot of companies haven’t yet understood the correlation between increased diversity and business success. Companies are continuing to “deprive themselves of the rich creativity and ingenuity that fuels technology innovation” by having a non-diverse and non inclusive team.
According to Margot James, the UK Minister of Digital and the Creative Industries, it is proven that having higher levels of diversity at managerial positions correlated with business success. Additionally, if companies are more gender diverse, they’re 15% more likely to outperform other less gender diverse companies.
A final contributing factor working against the tech industry is location. There’s an evident difference between the amount of job openings in cities across the UK, with London taking the number one slot with 205,000 job advertisements and Manchester taking the second spot with 28,000.
The gap between London and Manchester cannot be overlooked and proves that there’s a real problem with the location of roles available in comparison to where applicants are based. Resulting in a lack of strong applications for tech roles and the skills gap growth continuing.
What can you do?
Despite the clear consequences on not only the industry but businesses themselves, only 43% of UK employers reported they have a good handle on identifying and assessing the skills gap. Knowledge is power; understanding what businesses can be doing to encourage and inspire people to work in the tech industry is a great first step to working towards closing the present skills gap.
For businesses, it’s important to employ people that might only fit 60% of the job specification, but they have the right soft skills to help them progress in the role effectively. Companies need to understand that upskilling current employees with the ever-changing technologies entering our lives is important to retaining them and increasing both their productivity and work-life happiness.
For individuals, having a world class and up-to-date qualification under your belt will help close the industry skills gap and aid you in being job-ready to apply to your dream role. Not only that, your confidence will sky rocket because you’ll be making a positive difference in both the industry and your own life.
Are you ready to take the first step? Contact our career consultants today and find which tech course is right for you.