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Brexit fears could hinder IT sector skills shortage, survey finds

Following the Government’s report this month that the UK needs to find 745,000 new digitally skilled workers by 2020, a new survey from Rethink Group suggests a big hindrance may come as a result of businesses’ reticence to invest in people post-referendum.


In a survey carried out to mark one month since the UK’s vote for BREXIT, Rethink found that 63% of IT hiring managers would prioritise cutting recruitment investment in people.


Rethink carried out the survey to hundreds of its candidates and customers to ascertain the immediate impact of the referendum so far; 11% of its respondents declared they would freeze investment in training IT staff, 42% would freeze recruitment and 11% would freeze salaries, all of which Rethink Group's chief operating officer, Andy Lord, believes will have a detrimental impact long term: “We have enough skills shortages in the UK in this sector,” he said.


Lord stated, “With the advent of digital it’s incredibly disappointing to see that investing in people and nurturing talent would be affected.  At a time like this it is imperative that businesses – especially those in the IT and digital sectors who’ll soon need to find 745,000 skilled workers to carry out future roles – add value to great employees.


“Extending their staff’s skills set makes commercial sense to me – it can expand a company’s offering much better than restricting talent. Our talent management division RTM has already begun advising businesses on nurturing their workforce and adding value to continue to make the industry great!”


Conversely, the study found that in the four weeks since the referendum, businesses haven’t yet acted on these fears; more than 50% of respondents stated that they hadn’t as yet seen an impact on recruitment since the BREXIT vote. 


Lord added, “The fear that was immediately injected by the mass media on 24th June may well be just that. Our results show that as yet, people haven’t really seen any detrimental decision making put into action.


“Crucially, when our survey results for this question were filtered to purely CEO-level decision makers, 100% of respondents said they hadn’t made changes or seen any recruitment impact since BREXIT.”


Meanwhile, candidates looking for IT careers were more optimistic with their responses; two-thirds of them felt positive about their company’s response to BREXIT. Almost half of candidate respondents said they hadn’t seen an adverse impact on recruitment since the result.


Other results show that while the Government stalls its triggering of Article 50, people remain neutral about their own future and career prospects in light of BREXIT; 41% of respondents said they aren’t currently concerned about their careers, while just 42% said they were.  


The Rethink Group survey was carried out amongst 200 IT professionals between 14th and 21st July 2016.



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