The UK economy could be losing out on billions due to a shortage of key digital skills. This is the stark warning sent out as the result of a few independent surveys which have all come up with the same conclusion. One suggests that within the digital market the UK must recruit an extra 300,000 new people by 2020 just to stay in the game never mind be ahead of it. So why are we as a nation suddenly losing touch and not being able to compete as well with the big boys? That is the million dollar question we will try and answer below.
One theory is that the IT industry has ballooned to such an extent that is covers so many roles now there are bound to be weaker links in the chain. Despite the UK still being in recovery and many people unemployed vacancies for the like of programmers, developers and analysts are going begging. Those who are filling vacancies are often having to make do with who has applied rather than attracting the top talent from a depleted pool.
IT has been an area on the rise for decades, you cannot dispute this. Since the first home computers came along and industry went digital they have been in demand. A few years back it was reckoned there were too many entering the industry for the jobs available. Now there is a dire shortage which it seems nobody saw coming yet the signs were there, just nobody noticed them.
One factor which has played a part in the country's economic position over the past 7 years and the impact it had on the decisions made within numerous UK firms. The uncertain climate which we have been a part of since 2008 led many companies really pull back on what they were spending which in turn had a major impact on the IT industry. Many a project was either delayed indefinitely or completely scrapped causing an increase in the number of IT pros out of work.
This in turn had a domino effect on the amount of young people choosing IT as a career and less university graduates than ever were chasing IT vacancies. Now, unfortunately, we are very much on the back foot and there isn't enough professionals to fill the vacancies and top end jobs are going begging. Until we have the home grown talent to fill these jobs we are sourcing IT staff from other countries to fill the gaps, and thankfully there are plenty from central and eastern Europe who are more than happy to pursue an IT career in the UK.
To rectify this, IT needs to be once again promoted as THE career of choice for those choosing their further education path. There is not enough home grown talent to fill the vacancies on offer today never mind further down the line. There has been an increase in the amount of IT professionals hitting the market place but nowhere near enough and demand is still way outnumbering supply. Unless this is addressed sooner rather than later than UK companies are going to find it harder than ever to find home grown talent, and fantastic career opportunities are going to be missed out on.