UK tech sector defies the job market slump
By Dawn Gibson
Despite mass redundancies becoming commonplace, demand for workers in the UK technology sector is booming.
Technology is now the second highest sector for job vacancies after healthcare, with vacancy numbers rising by 36% between June and August according to data from leading online job platform Adzuna.
While the sector has not yet reached pre-pandemic levels, it has rebounded dramatically since lockdown, continuing the trend of a 40% spike in tech jobs over the past two years, a report from global technology information source Verdict noted, drawing on Adzuna data analysed by Tech Nation for the government’s Digital Economy Council.
However, the chronic skills gap means that companies will struggle to fill many of these roles.
Agata Nowakowska, area vice president at educational technology company Skillsoft, says companies need to think holistically about reskilling, upskilling and job transitioning to meet their tech requirements.
“The significant increase in technology job advertisements is not only a clear indicator that organisations are struggling to find talent – but that the available workforce is not equipped to meet the demand,” Nowakowska says.
“With technologies like AI and cloud becoming as commonplace as word processing or email in the workplace, firms will need to ensure employees can use such tools and aren’t apprehensive about using them. This will mean instituting lifelong learning for employees – from day one – constantly reskilling and upskilling workers to ensure everyone has the opportunity to learn new skills.”
Nowakowska says new training models and approaches are required, including on-the-job training and opportunities that support and signpost workers to opportunities to upgrade their skills. Similarly, investing in digital talent platforms that foster fluidity, by matching workers and their skills with new work opportunities within the enterprise will be key.
Security strategist Sam Humphries, from cybersecurity firm Exabeam, says the technical skills gap means companies are having to cast their recruitment net far wider, which underlines the importance of hiring for diversity, especially in terms of gender.
“Women represent a small percentage of a workforce desperate for more skilled workers. It’s a broad issue affecting many industries, but one that is particularly pronounced in cybersecurity,” Humphries says.
“Yet in the recent State of the SOC Report 2020, nearly 40% of the organisations surveyed feel their security operations center (SOC) is understaffed. This is the disparity that – to me – makes looking for skills in an all-but untapped female talent pool an obvious solution.
“What’s more, more companies need to embrace returners to work, offering opportunities to individuals who have taken a career break and are keen to get back to their profession or are able to cross-train.
“My hope is that by supporting programs that expose and encourage women and girls to the possibilities of an education and career in tech, we can help address the skills shortage by introducing new perspectives and problem-solving skills to the industry.”
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