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Resource shortage sees Northern digital businesses continue to turn away work

Almost two in five digital businesses in the North (37%) have turned away work over the past year due to a severe lack of resource, a new skills audit has found. 


A further one in four businesses said they’d had to outsource work outside of the EU as they couldn’t find the talent to fulfil it in the UK, with a quarter of businesses saying they’d turned down up to £50,000 worth of new business over the past year due to this lack of resource.


The skills audit of digital businesses in the North, undertaken by trade association Manchester Digital, also found that men are still dominating the majority of technical roles in the industry, with seven males for every three females now filling these positions. In addition, almost one in five businesses surveyed said their workforce was 100% male.


According to the audit, developer was the hardest role to fill for the third year in a row. These roles were even more difficult for businesses to recruit for this year, with 65% citing they’d struggled to find developers, up from 50% last year. Almost half of businesses (44%) said they’d had to inflate salaries to compete.


84% of companies surveyed reported growth over the past 12 months, up 4% from the previous year. The survey also revealed the growing use of apprentices in the sector, with almost half of Northern digital businesses having taken on apprentices in the past three years. Out of the businesses that were unable to hire an apprentice, however, one in four said it was because they didn’t have the capacity to manage one. 


Katie Gallagher, managing director at Manchester Digital, said, “The results of our digital skills audit revealed a number of issues we continue to face year on year – and unsurprisingly, many of those shortcomings are related to talent, or lack of. While not as many businesses turned down work due to lack of talent last year, 37% still did – a figure that can’t be ignored. The digital industry is booming, but now it’s absolutely critical that we develop and nurture the next generation of talent, in order to support the sheer amount of work our businesses are having to cope with.”


The results of the audit were revealed at the Digital Skills Festival, taking place in Manchester this week (9-12th February 2016), which attempts to combat the skills shortage in the region.


Gallagher commented, “With the digital skills gap still apparent, events like our skills festival are absolutely crucial to ensuring emerging talent in the region is introduced to those businesses that are crying out for talent. It’s now the responsibility of businesses, education providers, and policy makers alike, to join up the dots and ensure we’re doing everything we can to help the industry thrive as it should.


“As is the case every year, the conversations we have at the skills festival, teamed with the findings of our skills audit, influence the agenda and shape the work we do over the coming year. Our top priority has always been getting the right results for our members, so responding to their feedback accordingly and applying our expertise to shape policy and drive change is something we’ll continue to prioritise.”


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