ICT sector has major shortage of skilled workers

People from overseas looking for digital jobs outnumber Britons by as much as fifteen to one, according to the employment website Indeed.

42% of respondents in a survey for The Manufacturer’s Annual Manufacturing Report 2017 said that a major barrier to investing in ICT within their firm was a lack of skills.

The Office for National Statistics says the number of unfilled positions in the ICT sector rose by almost 25% last quarter compared with the same period a year ago.

Its research also found that many computer science graduates are working in non-professional jobs or are unemp-loyed. The ratio of jobseekers with previous employment in the ICT sector to relevant jobs has also dropped below one, meaning that there are more vacancies than people looking to fill them.

The statistics back up research from The Manufacturer magazine, which showed that access to appropriate skills remains a problem. 42% of respondents in a survey for The Manufacturer’s Annual Manufacturing Report 2017 said that a major barrier to investment and implementation of ICT within their organisation was a lack of skills.

Though the report said “a shortage of other skills—in particular, sales or manufacturing-specific skills—generally takes precedence as a problem,” the shortage of ICT skills is a perennial problem.

It added: “The obvious inference is that the IT skills in question are not skills that manufacturers are contemplating recruiting for, but are skill-shortfalls within their existing IT workforce, such as a lack of familiarity with cloud technologies or similar.”

In its annual manufacturing report a year later, The Manufacturer surveyed chief executives on manufacturing skills. The CEO survey found that 38% of UK CEOs “find it difficult to attract the right kind of digital talent.”

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Jobs website Indeed found that foreigners looking for digital jobs exceed Britons looking for digital jobs by a ratio of 15 to one.

In 2015, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills estimated that some 518,000 additional people would be needed to fill the roles available for the three highest skilled occupational groups in the digital arena by 2022. This figure is three times more the number of computer science graduates produced in the previous decade.

Recruitment from abroad has helped to fill job vacancies in the ICT sector. According to the employment website Indeed, foreigners looking for digital jobs exceed Britons looking for digital jobs by a factor of fifteen.

Stephanie Kane, of cybersecurity company Avast told The Times: “There are definitely gaps in terms of recruitment. Really, our focus is not so much who we need today but who we might need in five or ten years’ time.”

She said that as societies become more digitally-connected, cybersecurity threats become more commonplace and require more people with ICT and cybersecurity skills to combat the threat: “This is a big, burgeoning market and there are going to be a lot of job opportunities to deliver security around new, different areas of technology. It’s a great opportunity for companies to grow, but if we don’t have the skills coming in we won’t be able to.”


Reporting by Harry Wise