There were more than 64,000 job vacancies for technology jobs in the UK in the third quarter of last year, according to the latest BCS report on the state of the nation, released today. This is 191% more than in the same period of 2020.

Published annually by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, the report looks at technology hiring in the UK, taking into account data from the National Statistics Office and job sites. However, filling these vacancies is proving difficult, as the shortage of digital skills in the UK means that competition for qualified candidates is high. Greater investment in digital apprenticeships may be a solution, says BCS.

IT staff is in high demand in the UK, according to a new BCS study. (Photo by SolStock / iStock)

Why are there so many IT jobs?

This dramatic increase in job vacancies comes with the exit of the economy from the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought with it a freeze on employment across the sector. Annette Olmark, head of internships at BCS, says demand has always been there and it is likely that recruitment will resume once the pandemic is under control.

“Because of the kind of profession we are and the way IT businesses work, in some ways they have been able to continue during the pandemic,” she said. “So there may have been a freeze on recruiting [but] we did not hit other sectors almost as much. “

Part of the demand is likely to be accelerated by the pandemic itself, says Allmark, as companies adapt to hybrid work models and move forward with long-term transformation projects after being forced to adopt digital systems.

But the much-lacked digital skills shortage in the UK is slowing down these projects. As reported by Technical monitor67% of technology leaders surveyed last year by Harvey Nash said a lack of skilled staff is slowing down their digital transformation schemes.

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A separate report from WorldSkills, Learning and Work Institute and Enginuity from 2021 found that 76% of companies “lack the digital skills needed for their business”.

Technology jobs in the UK: companies from all sectors are competing for talent

This means that the jump in technology recruitment is not limited to technology companies themselves, says Allmark. “We talk about digital skills and we think about big technical companies, but I talk to managers working in the healthcare, retail and other industries and they tell me that people don’t apply for IT and technical jobs because they don’t think they have them, “she says.” Every profession has a digital point of contact. “

The most sought after jobs in technology are developers, who account for 23% of all vacancies, followed by analysts. However, the increase in job vacancies was ubiquitous and included IT operations and help desk staff, the BCS report revealed.

The dramatic rise has caused recruitment problems, something that has always been a problem, according to Amandine Le Pap, co-founder and chief operating officer of the secure communications platform Element, who said hiring exceptional candidates is a particular challenge when looking for senior and leading software engineers and managers.

“Flexibility is now a baseline, not an option or a bargaining chip,” says Le Pap. “Companies need to move away from ‘add-ons’ and focus on what they can offer, which has a real impact on employee experience.

She added: “You have to prove that you value potential employees as people, not as business currency. For a company like us that is growing rapidly, it is essential to show that we are committed to providing this people-centered approach to 21st century scaling.

Can digital apprenticeships address skills shortages?

One of the main proposals in the BCS report was for companies to invest in digital apprenticeships to secure a future pool of talent that meets the requirements for hiring technology in the UK. It appears that a number of companies are already providing the necessary training to hire new staff, with just over half a million technicians claiming education, the report said.

The government is committed to helping by covering 95% of apprenticeship training costs by providing an improved recruitment service for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), helping them hire new apprentices and maintaining flexible training models.

Allmark said Technical monitor the most sought after apprentices are those who are willing to be trained in “developing, analyzing, understanding data and how they are used in AI”.

“Companies are recruiting at a junior level and there is a recognition that we need a set of talent and how to achieve it,” she said. “That’s why employers are looking at how they can engage in other approaches to ensure they have access to this flow of talent. ”

Some of this may come from younger people leaving school, but it also comes from people who want to change careers later in life. Zoe Spielberg, head of education at BCS, said it was vital to provide adequate resources and funded additional education that meets the needs of lifelong learners.

“We see that recruiting and retaining staff in some areas of the UK is a bigger challenge for providers than recruiting and retaining students,” Spielberg said. “A lot of work needs to be done to ensure that we reach a representative and a diverse set of talents from future trainers and teachers to fill these vital gaps.”

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UK tech job vacancies grow 191% but skills shortage still hampers recruitment

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