Is the UK heading for another tech skills crisis?

By Rachel Fielding
20 Feb 2012 View Comments

Despite the slump, many organisations are struggling to recruit high-calibre IT staff. Rachel Fielding asks leading industry figures whether anything can be done to prevent the situation from deteriorating into a full-blown skills crisis when the recovery finally arrives

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Economic doom and gloom prevails, unemployment continues its upward trajectory and with little in the way of evidence to suggest a imminent reversal in the UK’s fortunes, 2012 looks set to be a challenging year for business.

And yet, despite redundancies across the IT industry over the course of the recession, finding good people with the right skills has never been harder. Indeed attracting, recruiting and retaining top talent is set to be one of the biggest challenges facing CIOs over the next 12 months.

It’s a concern that was echoed by more than 50 CIOs and IT directors at Deloitte Technology Consulting’s annual CIO Dinner back in November. According to a poll conducted at the event, a large majority of IT leaders indicated that they spend at least a third of their day on IT leadership, talent and skills development. 

Kevin Walsh, Deloitte’s technology consulting leader, believes that although the global recession temporarily eased concerns about the IT talent crisis, the situation is likely to be worse as the economy recovers. He warns that many skills are difficult to find, with the most critical need in the area of strategic talent, including project managers, commercial managers, leaders and architects. 

Despite gaps, a buoyant contractor market means business objectives continue to be met. But James Aldridge, head of the UK’s biggest IT recruiter Hays, warns: “It’s not the most cost-effective solution, and the shortage of permanent candidates is probably stifling some growth in systems development that isn’t business critical.” 

Aldridge also admits clients are wary of contractors because they’re worried they’ll be the first to up sticks and leave to get a higher contract rate. 

“There’s a perception that the whole country is in recession but in IT demand is outstripping supply for developers and business transformation specialists. The challenge for CIOs is the people doing the recruitment for some of the crucial roles just aren’t acting quickly enough,” he adds.


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