UK’s digital skills shortage reaches “all-time high”

Bobby Hellard

9 Nov, 2021

The UK’s booming technology sector is “under threat”, according to a new report that suggests the country’s skills shortage has reached an all-time high. 

Around 80% of digital leaders have stated that post-pandemic priorities among their employees have made retention even more difficult, according to the Harvey Nash Group’s Digital Leadership report.  

The report, developed in partnership with CIONET and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology CISR, revealed that the number of UK digital leaders planning to boost their technology investment and headcount reached record levels, rising by over a third (36% and 37%, respectively) since 2020.

It reveals that 40% of UK digital leaders admit they can’t keep key employees as long as they would like as they’re being lured away by the offer of more money. Only a third (38%) of organisations say they redesigned their employee offer to make it attractive to staff in the new hybrid working world.

Additionally, the UK is facing a major shortage of talent in cyber securitybig data analytics and technical architects. According to a recent DCMS report, the recruitment pool for cyber security professionals has a shortfall of 10,000 people a year, despite being the most sought after tech skill in the UK. The shortage of developers, which has been identified amongst the three jobs with the worst skills shortages in the UK behind HGV drivers and nurses, saw the biggest increase compared with previous years. 

The shortages are set to impact business growth, according to Harvey Nash, with two-thirds (66%) of digital leaders in the UK now unable to keep pace with change because of the “dearth” of talent they need. 

“With businesses planning record levels of digital investment, we could be standing on the verge of a ‘second renaissance’ for technology,” said Bev White, CEO of Harvey Nash Group. “Organisations are looking to push their digital transformations further and faster than ever before, putting technology at the very heart of how they operate. 

“But these ambitions are coming under threat from the acute skills shortages that are now worse than ever before. In fact, businesses face a triple whammy. They lack the supply of skilled resources they need; they have not yet evolved a new and effective employee proposition for the hybrid working world; and the skills they need are themselves changing as technology develops at pace.

“Digital leaders need to rapidly assess their needs and find solutions if their plans are not to be derailed by this potent cocktail of challenges.”