A new report compiled by EY and Tech North highlights how the North’s digital and tech industries are facing a serious skills shortage. The report highlights that for every digital tech worker in the region, there are on average 1.4 jobs advertised annually. This highlights how the industry is struggling to meet the massive demand for digital tech workers and is presenting a huge challenge for digital and tech businesses, with the lack of talent have a direct impact on businesses’ abilities to grow.
From our perspective working in digital and tech recruitment, this trend has been evident for a number of years. As the digital industry grows at a record rate, it is natural that demand for talent will increase. However, trends within the industry have seen demand for specific skill sets, such as Paid Media, UX/UI, and CRO for example, outstrip available talent at an alarming rate.
The nature of the industry, with rapidly evolving changes in technology and digital techniques, has led to a situation where the vast majority of candidates are playing catch-up with the unstoppable force of advances in technology.
Employers in the digital and tech industry that we work with echo these experiences and are working with us to identify how we can look at roles differently, in order to deliver the level of talent they’re looking to attract.
We’ve found that even some of the biggest names in the North’s digital industry are having to rethink their ideal hire - sometimes this means looking for promising junior candidates who can be fast-tracked, instead of waiting for an experienced hire to come along, or sometimes this means looking at complementary skill sets and cross-training if the candidate’s underlying attitude and desire is right.
What’s very evident is that employers are more than ever committing to developing their people in-house, enabling them to learn and develop from more experienced colleagues within their chosen digital or tech field.
This strategy is hugely beneficial to companies, provided they can develop cultures that retain their talent, as they will have developed a highly skilled professional whose skillset is aligned with the overall strategy of the company. It will then have positive knock-on effects for the digital and tech industry, as it leads to the fast-tracking of employee skill sets and a larger talent pool for the industry as a whole.
For widespread adoption of this approach to happen, it will mean the digital and tech industry putting rivalries aside to realise that what is beneficial for one, is beneficial for all. A short-term commitment to fast-tracking talent will have massive long-term benefits for the entire industry.
Among EY and Tech North’s strategy for solving the digital skills crisis is making digital mainstream in schools. This should certainly be done, but the benefits won’t be fully apparent for years so it needs to happen in parallel with other approaches.
Another of their initiatives is the development of a Northern Digital Skills Network to connect, coordinate, and drive digital skills activity in the North. This will take a huge amount of cooperation and coordination, but could undoubtedly yield excellent results and help to keep the north at the forefront of the UK’s digital and tech scene.
At Pitch we’ve always championed young talent and have always worked in tandem with clients to look at different approaches to talent acquisition in candidate scarce sectors, so we look forward to continuing our collaboration with the sector we’re so proud to work in.