A recent report from Tech City UK highlighted the incredible growth the UK technology sector has seen over the last three years.
Tech City, which was launched in November 2010 to support the growth of the technology cluster in East London, is now home to some of the largest and most successful digital and tech business in the UK. There is no doubt that the industry and the government intend Tech City to be one of the world's greatest technology clusters.
Today the most in-demand roles in tech and digital sectors include software professionals, IT strategy and planning professionals and IT user support technicians. These roles are expected to continue to grow significantly by 2016.
However, a lack of skills across the sector is still of critical concern and has the ability to stifle growth.
According to a 2013 report by CareerBuilder, about one in four UK companies had positions they couldn't fill. The failure to find skilled workers can affect revenue and have a serious knock-on effect on morale and service provision, as many employers cite lower productivity among existing employees as well as lower customer service quality due to extended vacancies.
These effects of the emerging skills gap reinforce how critical it is for the government, industry and educational institutions to work together to ignite passion for careers in the tech sector and to re-skill workers for future opportunities.
But how do businesses bridge the skills gap?
Education and training organisations will continue to play an essential role in reducing the skills gap. This will need to be done primarily through the development of curriculums that are relevant to opportunities in the job market, making it easier for workers to identify and access training and for employers to ensure the infrastructure is in place. All of which will help invigorate the passion for technology careers and make it easier for individuals to re-skill.
Identify your current and future skills need
Employers need to be evaluating the experience base of their employees and identifying future needs. This will ensure that companies know first-hand the types of skills sets that are required, and what emerging skills sets will become the most in-demand in the future so that they can adequately prepare by re-skilling workers or enhancing their talent acquisition process. In addition, employers should seek to design flexible career paths for their employees to allow them to easily deploy people to different roles where their skills are in demand.
Re-skill your workers
Many businesses need to recognise the considerable benefits of re-skilling workers to fit both their business and recruitment needs. If workers are provided with the ability to develop a new skill, the business can benefit from not having to recruit for this role at a later date, ensure your resources are best utilised. Moreover, it encourages staff loyalty and means that the money spent on the recruitment process can be ploughed back into the training budget, or elsewhere in the business.
Embrace a mobile workforce
More and more UK organisations are taking a global approach to their recruitment needs and turning to a mobile workforce to address the skills gap. Many are advertising their technology vacancies outside of the UK in an attempt to entice workers to relocate (if only on a temporary basis). From this, businesses can take advantage of the skills and learnings from the global markets in order to strengthen their technology portfolios.
The tech and digital sector is going to continue to grow. To ensure we use the skills gap as an opportunity, educational institutions, government and businesses should start talking to one another to further develop strategies for recruitment, the development and retention of employees, and the education a younger generation of the prospects.
Tony Roy is President of CareerBuilder EMEA.