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Where Are the Major Gaps in the Digital Skills Market?

Published on 26 January in Next Ventures

“Over 12 million people, and a million small businesses in the UK do not have the skills to prosper in the digital era.”

BBC

We wrote a few months ago about how to plug the front-end development skills gap, but where, we wonder, are the gaps in the digital skills market in a broader sense?

Basically, there is a gap between the skills that employers want, and the skills available in today’s candidate pool. Industries within the niche large enterprise sector are changing rapidly, and it is difficult for workers to acquire the right software skills to keep up. Requirements for roles are changing so rapidly, skills soon become out-dated and new roles cannot be created quickly enough to meet demand.

“the amount of change in this occupation [programmers] over three years is unfathomable, and can't necessarily be planned for. If you stop your learning at any one point, you could be completely redundant within a couple of years.”

Respondent, UKCES Employer Skills Survey 2015

As a result, skills gaps have emerged in parts of the digital skills market in the UK. In 2013, Gartner predicted that:

“By 2015, 4.4 million IT jobs globally will be created to support big data. But there is a challenge. There is not enough talent in the industry… only one third of the IT jobs will be filled”

Their prophecy hasn’t proved far wrong.

Of the 364,000 organisations employing tech specialists in the UK, 52% identified a shortfall among their staff, according to The Tech Partnership’s 2015 Employer Skills Survey. We’ve already identified a skills gap in the front-end development industry, but where else is there a shortfall in digital skills?

Well, according to The Tech Partnership, businesses operating within the financial services are those most likely to experience a shortage of desired digital skills. In fact, a huge 61% of those canvassed in the 2015 Employer Skills Survey said that their current workforce were lacking in the skills they needed. High percentages of tech firms and public sector organisations also reported a skills gap in their industry sectors. In fact, the survey found that, on average, only 79% of tech specialists had the skills needed for the job. High level, technical IT skills like cybersecurity, big data analytics, mobile and cloud computing, IT management skills and tech sector knowledge were all cited as the main skills missing in today’s candidates. In some cases (like big data analytics) there was a 39% gap between skills needed, and skills available.

Geographically, too, there are major digital skills gaps in the UK. Over a third of the population in Wales for example, do not have the requisite digital skills to meet the needs of the Digital Economy, which surveys link to education, income, health and internet access.

As the UK digital economy thrives and gains ground economically over every other sector, it’s essential that organisations are able to plug skills gaps with the necessary expertise or candidates. This falls mainly to education and development of course, but you also can hire for skills gaps. Though limited and in-demand, we have access to some of the most-skilled and niche tech talent in the UK.

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