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Why Is There a Technology Skills Gap? And How Can We Solve It?

Why Is There a Technology Skills Gap? And How Can We Solve It?

July 4, 2023

Employers are facing a difficult task when it comes to filling technology roles today. According to one study, around 95% of employers have encountered a skills shortage over the past year. As technology moves forward at a faster pace, we need skilled workers to step in to implement and manage this technology. But at present, we aren’t training workers to acquire the skills we need to keep up with advances.

So, what are the primary causes of this skills gap, and what can we do to close it? Let’s first look at some of the reasons that we don’t have enough skilled workers to fill these roles, and then some of the proposed solutions to this problem.

What is a technology skills gap?

The technology skills gap refers to the shortage of workers capable of carrying out specific skilled work. There are skills gaps across many sectors, usually in highly specialised roles that require specific training. There can also be a skills gap in less desirable work, but this is not the case for the technology sector.

The skills gaps in technology is down to a shortage of workers across cyber security, data management and software development. Put simply, we aren’t training enough workers to fill these roles, which means employers are chasing a smaller and smaller pool of potential candidates.

Why Is There a Technology Skills Gap? And How Can We Solve It? CMD Recruitment

Why is there a technology skills gap?

There are many reasons a skills gap can occur. In order to meet demand in a growing industry, there need to be more workers joining the sector than are leaving. As mentioned above, undesirable work or poor working conditions can impact some sectors and lead to a skills gap, but this doesn’t seem to be the case in technology. In general, technology jobs are well paid and the conditions are favourable. So, why don’t we have enough workers for these roles?

Potential reasons for the technology skills gap include:

  • Lack of awareness of this as a career path early in life
  • Lack of visibility of women in the sector, making it less likely that young girls will choose this career path
  • A lack of accessible training opportunities for those looking to re-train
  • The wider impact of Brexit on the UK tech sector
  • Candidates leaving the sector looking for better work life balance

Let’s look at some of these reasons in more detail:

Why Is There a Technology Skills Gap? And How Can We Solve It? CMD Recruitment

Tech as a career option

We have to ask important questions about whether young people are being presented with technology as a career option. Do they have opportunities to choose technology subjects at a young enough age, and are these options presented to them when it comes to choosing university courses? We also have to ask questions about the gender gap in technology, and if enough young girls see technology as a viable career path.

Poor training opportunities

The pandemic forced many people to think about training in new careers, but are there opportunities for individuals to choose technology training later in life? Adult learning opportunities need to be flexible enough to fit around existing commitments, while also being accessible and affordable.

Candidates leaving the sector

Any sector with a skills shortage will put pressure on workers already in the field to plug the gap. This can make roles more stressful, as there aren’t enough workers to complete essential tasks. This can lead to burnout among existing technology workers, which could be to blame for some choosing less stressful career paths.

Why Is There a Technology Skills Gap? And How Can We Solve It? CMD Recruitment

Demand for flexible working

The pandemic made many workers realise that their job could easily be done from home, so employers demanding that workers return to the office is likely to be met with distaste. We are seeing workers leaving key technology roles because they see other companies offering better work/life balance, simply by offering the opportunity to work from home. Working from home may be more difficult in the cyber security sector, but it certainly isn’t impossible.

Brexit and global competition

When the UK voted to leave the EU, the UK became a lot less attractive for tech companies. Many went overseas, taking the best talent with them. Technology is a career path that can open doors throughout the world, so UK employers need to work that little bit harder to retain the best talent. This is harder when the UK is seen as a less prosperous place to live, and the cost of living crisis is only making things worse.

Why Is There a Technology Skills Gap? And How Can We Solve It? CMD Recruitment

How do we fix the technology skills gap?

Employers need to cast a wider net when it comes to filling roles. Instead of looking for workers that are qualified to hit the ground running, it may be more beneficial to find workers who have the aptitude for the role and are willing to undergo training. Here are some ways that employers and the sector might consider closing this skills gap:

  • Increase awareness of the opportunities available and the earning potential for these roles. Technology is often seen as an opaque sector, and workers might not be aware of the opportunities available.
  • Think beyond university training. Not everything needs to be learnt on a degree course. By removing the requirement for a university degree for technology roles, workers would have access to a much larger candidate pool. This might include those who have completed apprenticeships and on-the-job training.
  • Upskill your existing workforce. You might have the skills and aptitude already in your organisation, you just haven’t given them the right support and training yet. By offering free training and apprenticeships to your existing workers, you can close the skills gap using your existing workforce.
  • Think about your offering. Workers are no longer happy with a breakout room and free breakfast. They want things that will make a meaningful impact on their life. This could include flexible working, hybrid working and improved maternity/paternity options for families. Shaking up the traditional working patterns and asking employees what they really want is a great way to retain the best talent in your organisation. 
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