Technical skills gap grows for ninth year in a row

The chunk of recruitment that companies are dedicating to IT and other technical roles expanding to its highest volume in four years points to negative rather than positive pressures, new research shows.

In what would usually be an auspicious finding, the Institution of Engineering and Technology showed that the proportion of hiring set aside for IT, engineering and technical talent stood this year at 41%, the highest since 2010.

But at least a third of the 400 employers, surveyed for the IET in April 2014, do not expect to get the “suitably qualified” applicants they need for their technical or IT projects.

This means confidence in recruiting enough appropriately skilled techies over the next 12 months has continued to decline towards pre-financial crash levels, due to a shortage of candidates, or a shortage of candidates with specific skills.

Expressed by 38% of the sample, the employers’ pessimism about whether incoming IT workers will be up to par may stem from their previous bid to staff-up tech projects.

In particular, nearly half (44%) of them say the last batch of IT/technical candidates did not meet “reasonable expectations” on levels of skills.

Taken alongside the IET’s previous annual surveys on the issue, the finding means that the technical skills gap for the UK employers increased in 2014 for the ninth year in a row.

 “Employers indicated they are finding it more difficult to recruit the people they want, in particular those with 5-10 years’ work experience,” the institution said.

“For the IT sector, the biggest concern was recruiting IT apprentices, an 8% increase since 2013. However employers have reported that they are finding it increasingly easy to recruit IT managers this year.”

The full report will be seen as both confirmation that the UK’s technical skills mismatch is ongoing and a warning that it could now threaten the recovery efforts of businesses, and the nation.

IET’s chief executive Nigel Fine reflected: “There needs to be a deeper engagement between employers and the education system to produce a talent pipeline that can sustain a thriving UK economy.”

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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