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Posted Wednesday, August 03, 2016 by Richard Harris, Executive Editor
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Hired.com, a platform that connects companies with top IT talent, has recently published the “Mind the Gap” report that takes a deep dive into the United Kingdom tech sector to identify the digital skills that companies are demanding to help their businesses grow. The report also analyzes how issues such as Brexit, the uncertainty around freedom of movement, and the growing appeal of other global tech hubs in Europe, the US and Asia will affect the UK.
Currently the UK is the top tech hub in Europe, hosting more tech “unicorns” (businesses valued at $1 billion or more) than any other European country. The UK is largest digital economy as a percentage of GDP in the G20, with expected growth of 15% next year. According to recent statistics analyzed by Hired.com, the UK’s digital industry is now worth £161bn to the economy and supports more than 1.5 million jobs.
As the report points out, the question is will the UK will continue to be positioned to fill the 750,000 new digital jobs that will open by 2020, and ultimately stay competitive in the global tech economy.
To gather research for the report, Hired.com analyzed hundreds of companies and thousands of candidates who have participated in its UK hiring marketplace over the last 18 months to better understand the state of the nation’s talent and skills base.
Based on that research, the following key findings were discovered:
1. There is a significant skills gap in the key areas of data, security, Python, Ruby, UI and UX. Whether measured by supply and demand, interview requests or job offers, these areas consistently emerged as the skills most coveted by tech firms. Market appetite for these skills is far outstripping supply. As an example, the demand for security engineers increasingly by 234% in the last 18 months alone.
2. With the uncertainty over the Brexit decision, gaps in the supply and demand of IT skills may hold back the UK tech sector’s growth. One in three people working in the UK tech sector come from another European country. Britain’s position as a digital powerhouse has been dependent on bringing in these kinds of high-skilled workers as a supplement to the country’s home-grown talent; the skills gap will only worsen if the UK can’t attract the best talent, wherever it’s from.
3. The UK’s global competitiveness against US tech hubs is an area of concern. Average salaries for tech workers in London are substantially lower than in Silicon Valley and New York, which have salaries 38% and 35% higher, respectively, than the UK.
Evaluating the Future Availability of a Trained IT Work Force in the UK
The report also looked into the state of the UK’s talent and skills base, to see how it aligns with the skills that companies are demanding to help their businesses grow.
The authors pointed to an interesting trend when looking at the pipeline of tech-savvy students entering the workforce. Seventy-four percent of tech workers have a degree – a much higher proportion than the national average. However, the number of UK students graduating with computer science qualifications has dropped considerably since 2002.
This is in direct contrast other European countries such as France, which provides the European market with more computer science graduates than any other country. With the decrease in talent coming from UK’s educational system coupled with the fact that the data revealed that a large number of developers are now self-taught, employers will need to pay close attention to the recruitment process.
So, even thought the UK has a highly-qualified workforce today, there are risks of the skills gap widening, with fewer developers and software engineers entering the workplace despite an economy is demanding increasing levels of tech talent.
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