Closing the tech skills gap | NTT DATA

Fri, 30 September 2022

Closing the tech skills gap

How businesses can overcome the industry’s greatest challenge

The message is clear: the UK has a tech skills shortage. Demand for technology talent is rocketing at a time when supply isn’t keeping pace. Whilst this has been a growing industry challenge for several years it has now reached unprecedented levels, with 66% of UK business leaders saying it is directly responsible for slowing their digital transformations. 

There were over 2 million tech job vacancies in 2021 and there have already been 870,000 tech vacancies made available between January 2022 and May 2022, the highest ever rate since this data was first recorded in 2012.

Incredibly, this same research found that there has been a 1006% increase in the demand for data skills since 2019, a 216% increase in the demand for engineering skills and a 602% increase in the demand for management experience.

The median time-to-hire for tech positions has increased from 37 days in 2021 to 39 days in 2022, with tech roles only having an offer acceptance rate of 70% . Needless to say this shows that the time and cost-to-hire for tech vacancies continues to increase and it’s little wonder businesses are struggling to keep up with demand.

This is the situation now. But it was also clear that there was a technology skills shortage even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. As businesses have fought to recover from that – and the majority, thankfully, have – it’s partly been at the cost of the skills gap widening. Tech leaders continue to face disruption; the war in Ukraine, the economy, political upheaval, COVID-accelerated new ways of working, and the cost-of-living crisis all factors feeding into an unpredictable world.

Businesses have had to respond quickly to rapidly changing times. The hard reality many businesses face – in such a highly competitive technology landscape – is that there’s not enough talent available to meet these ever-changing demands. It leaves businesses at risk of slowed growth, increased costs, and a lack of innovation. It leads to businesses being reactive and in a perpetual cycle of solving short-term problems, rather than being proactive and using strategic thinking to build for the future.

Talent forms the bedrock of every organisation. It is from where culture is developed and success is built.

So how does a technology business close this gap?

The way forward is to be bold. A combination of automation and tech academies are a proven formula for bridging the gap and are a strategic investment for both the present and the future. Harnessing technology to automate manual processes and workflows removes routine work from existing employees, allowing space and capacity for these employees to upskill through tech academies. Once upskilled, these employees can then be moved to stretched areas where they can bring greater reward and overall capacity increases. In addition, employee productivity and morale improves. The gap closes.

A drive towards automation is something many businesses find daunting. An automation roadmap is therefore key, but again, knowing where to start with your roadmap can be a challenge. There are a few key stages to explore:

Look for opportunities

You should first start with establishing where you have processes and workflows that would logically lend themselves to automation. Many of these are easy to spot. Business areas that are tying up your employees with routine manual tasks are ripe for change.

Examples can be most frequently seen in areas such as finance, procurement, operations and HR. Purchase order management, expense management, resource onboarding, call centre operations and cyber risk reporting are just a handful of examples where automation can lift the load. There are many more.

Set up a Centre of Excellence

Automation requires a commitment, and it requires a significant culture change for many businesses. To get the most out of it, a top-to-bottom rethink of business operations is vital.

At the heart of the business, there needs to be an automation Centre of Excellence. Its aim? To drive the delivery of automation across an organisation, to seek out and implement cost efficiencies, and to free up talent from overstaffed areas of the business.

A centre of excellence will take the best part of a year to implement fully, but the benefits kick in early and can rapidly scale.

Stakeholders need to be brought on board quickly for this to work. The Centre of Excellence group needs to steer and continually oversee progress after implementing automation initiatives.

Implement a Tech Academy

Supply and demand. Simple economics, some may say. The aim here is to establish a mid-to-long-term solution, that keeps on top of ongoing resource gaps and builds a continual stream of emerging talent. The skills gap can at best, become obsolete, but at worst, become vastly reduced.

A Tech Academy is designed for both existing staff and incoming graduates. It assesses the existing talent pool within a business, it designs and implements a customised recruitment campaign, and creates and implements a bespoke training programme. This accelerates the learning process, allowing the business to grow and respond more quickly.

With sales-related employees in the front line of generating revenues and delivering a great customer experience, this can be an especially beneficial place for some of the newly upskilled personnel to land. Sales Academies add an extra dimension to more-general Tech Academies by preparing new arrivals and existing sales personnel to work with the latest digital solutions.

Your automation roadmap

As technology companies continue to wrestle with the ever-widening skills gap and external influences out of its control, it is often forgotten that the solution often lies much closer to home.

Automating routine tasks can free up valuable in-house resources to work in more rewarding roles. The automation roadmap helps to identify and implement the automation initiatives that will deliver the most significant benefits. Alongside this, a Tech Academy structure for cross/upskilling enables the rapid redeployment of existing resources to more engaging roles.

This approach to automation delivers significant benefits. It drives cost optimisation, streamlines operations, increases employee satisfaction and productivity, reduces external recruitment spend and reduces both the time and cost-to-hire. Above all, it builds resilience to future industry-wide skills shortages and external market influences. It’s a commitment and an investment worth making.

To learn more about how we can help you close your tech skills gap, download our latest whitepaper: Bridge the growing skills gap with automation and Tech Academies.

Please feel free to comment or reach out if you have any thoughts on this blog, or would like to discuss any of the above further. I would love to hear what you think.


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