IT businesses need to adapt before skills gap becomes impassable

IT businesses have been called upon to start offering apprenticeships and accepting vocational qualifications before the UK skills gap becomes too wide.

44% of UK businesses said that the IT skills gap is having a direct effect on staff productivity, with 27% saying it has slowed their speed to market. 46% reported concern about trying to find IT staff with the right skills and experience to fill jobs, despite nearly two thirds (62%) believing that business conditions are going to be better than last year. This optimism has at least rubbed off on respondents resourcing plans – 28% plan to hire IT staff this year, up from 19% in 2014, and more than three-quarters of UK firms plan to increase IT spending this year by an average of 4.2%.

When probed further about the consequences of the skills gap, 30% said that customer service had suffered due to insufficient skills and 26% noted a detrimental effect on innovation and new product development.  

However, UK employers do feel that improvement is being made on closing the skills gap, 55% said they are exactly or close to where they want to be compared to 48% two years ago. Accompanying this is corresponding improvements in the incidences of IT staff training (88% compared to 86% in 2013).   

Speaking exclusively to HR Grapevine and Recruitment Grapevine, Estelle Johannes, CompTIA’s UK Director of Member Communities, said: “There remains a mismatch between the growth of the IT industry and the supply of professionals with the requisite skills. Businesses and IT companies should give vocational qualifications the same respect and status as University degrees. Industry certifications, which can be studied remotely, give people the opportunity to ‘earn and learn’, gaining a valuable combination of knowledge and experience. Unlike Computer Science degrees, industry certifications teach IT from both a technical and business perspective, giving students the skills to bridge the gap between IT department and boardroom. Crucially, they give students much more up-to-date knowledge of the latest technologies, while University degrees often struggle to keep up with the pace of technological change.”

The study, International Technology Adoption and Workforce Trends Study, was by CompTIA, a provider of vendor-neutral certifications for the global IT workforce, interviewed 1,500 IT executives. 

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