As just about every industry trades in its traditional means of business for a digitalised model, the need for those who can understand, implement and develop modern business is growing. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the amount of those ready to offer this already over-subscribed talent is already completely surpassed by the quantity needed, causing the talent crisis in software development that many of us are already familiar with.

But just how much of a problem really is? 

According to research released by ComputerWeekly in August, only 11% of employers are not expecting a shortage of skilled technology professionals over the following year. Furthermore, a study by recruitment firm Robert Walters in partnership with Jobsite and Totaljobs backs this up further, finding that a majority of firms think the next year will see moderate to severe shortages of technology talent. 

Beyond that, according to HR Dive last year, the effect of this talent crisis can be expensive too, with a “new report from market research firm Forrester [predicting] that those employers that lag behind in attracting critical digital talent will wind up paying up to 20% above market salary rates for new hires with particularly in-demand skills — a group that includes data scientists, high-end software developers and information security analysts”.

What does this issue come down to?

Firstly, this problem is largely linked to the hiring of junior talent, or lack thereof.  According to director of Robert Walters Manchester, Ahsan Iqbal, in conversation with ComputerWeekly, despite the “unprecedented growth” in the technology industry of the past few years (including more skilled entrants into the field), firms are not hiring as much junior talent because of the 2008 financial crisis. 

“Junior-level hiring dropped significantly during the recession, and this has created a skills bottleneck at the mid-level today, with an insufficient number of professionals and the required experience available to meet demand”. 

Moreover, the most sought-out skills are specialised, meaning that employers are actively seeking individuals already trained in cyber security, business intelligence and data-related roles, as well as software development. Roles in this area generally require certain level of skill, meaning that skill shortage is felt most at mid-management level. Furthermore, even if we turn directly to the hiring of junior level talent, 36% of employers expect a “struggle” even in the recruiting of junior technology specialists. 

Additionally, as we look to the new year, it seems the situation won’t necessarily get any easier, with the influence of Brexit creating uncertainty across all industries and prompting us to question whether the UK’s tech talent pipeline can match industry needs after Brexit.

What can be done to face this issue? 

According to Ahsan Iqbal, firms should think about how they plan to attract and importantly, retain technology talent using competitive salaries, flexible working and more interesting projects. In terms of finding professionals with the requisite skill set, “employers may also want to consider attracting candidates who are willing to relocate, both in the UK and internationally. Engaging with international recruitment agencies can give hiring managers access to talent from around the globe”. However, with the UK’s current rules regarding the acquisition of skilled workers entering the region already causing an issue, the addition of Brexit may make this even more difficult. 

In spite of this, director of Totaljobs, Martin Talbot, maintains that the best way to find workers with the right talent for your business is train them up in the job. Talbot suggests that firms should focus on other skills that the candidates may have in the hiring process, including “project and programme management, as well as strong interpersonal skills”. Furthermore, businesses can offer education incentives to new talent who require additional, formal training. 

All in all, it seems that the only way to face this problem is to hire flexibly, younger and be willing to nurture and develop roles within in the business. After all, this is a talent that is only going to get more sought-after in an evermore difficult business environment.