Tech investments could be derailed by skills shortage - 08/11/2021

Organisations are investing in technology at record levels, but can’t find the staff to get the best from that investment, according to research from recruiter Harvey Nash.

Six in 10 businesses plan to increase technology investment and 66% to increase the number of staff in digital roles, according to its Digital Leadership Report in collaboration with CIONET and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

However, 66% of digital leaders said they were unable to keep up with the pace of technological change due to a dearth of available talent.

Four in 10 said they were struggling to retain skilled workers, who were often being headhunted for other roles on higher salaries. A third have redesigned their employee offer to make it more attractive in response.

Cyber security is the most sought after tech skill, with 43% of organisations saying these roles were difficult to hire for. This has risen by a third in the past year.

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Research by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in March found that the pool of available candidates for cyber security roles has a shortfall of 10,000 people per year.

Other tough roles to recruit include big data/data analysis (36%) and technical architects (33%), the survey found. The shortage of developers, cited by 32%, is rising at the fastest rate as organisations create new online products and services to respond to consumer demand.

In such a tight labour market, diversity in recruitment is proving more difficult than ever, according to Harvey Nash Group.

Only 12% of digital leaders in this year’s survey identified as female, and the average proportion of women in tech teams was just under a quarter. Many organisations have disregarded mandatory shortlists including women or quotas as they feel they are not working, the recruiter said.

To address skills shortages, more than half (52%) plan to re-skill people from other parts of the organisation. The same proportion plan to offer more apprenticeships over the coming year.

Almost half have widened the geographical net for recruiting as hybrid working becomes more common. However, some organisations felt that working from home had decreased the mental wellbeing of existing employees, with 49% reporting greater investment in wellbeing programmes in response.

Harvey Nash Group CEO Bev White said organisations were on the verge of a “second renaissance” in terms of technology investment and roll-out.

“Organisations are looking to push their digital transformations further and faster than ever before, putting technology at the very heart of how they operate,” she said. “This will take them beyond being merely ‘tech-centric’: technology will literally be dispersed throughout the business, everywhere.

“But these ambitions are coming under threat from the acute skills shortages that are now worse than ever before. In fact, businesses face a triple whammy.

“They lack the supply of skilled resource they need; they have not yet evolved a new and effective employee proposition for the hybrid working world; and the skills they need are themselves changing as technology develops at pace.

Digital leaders need to rapidly assess their needs and find solutions if their plans are not to be derailed by this potent cocktail of challenges.”



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