Navigating the future of IT: Strategies for attracting and retaining tech talent

In an era characterised by rapid technological advancements, the roles of Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) and tech leaders are both fascinating and demanding. Given the pivotal role of technology in business strategies, the duties of tech leaders extend beyond keeping up to date with the latest trends. They also encompass driving innovation and overseeing change within their organisations. The pressing question is: how can apprenticeships assist in addressing crucial challenges CTOs and tech leaders face when it comes to bridging the technology skills gap?

For CTOs and tech leaders, navigating through technological changes is critical for company success. By understanding the challenges posed by the technology skills gap and devising strategies to tackle it, tech leaders can ensure their organisations remain competitive in this digital age. The implementation and running these technologies often involve overcoming significant challenges, such as rapidly evolving technology landscapes, legacy systems, and changing vendor relationships, to name a few. Among these, one of the most significant is undoubtedly the technology skills gap.

This year in the UK nearly all employers seeking tech talent experienced a shortage. A survey conducted by Hays, a reputable recruitment and HR firm recorded 94% of employers reported a lack of tech talent, an increase from 89% the previous year. The survey included responses from 13,000 employers and workers in the UK, 1,400 of whom were in the tech sector.

It was found that 60% of bosses in the UK are worried about their teams not having the right skills for new tech; like internet-connected devices (IoT), computer-thinking (AI), automation, digital money systems (blockchain), and augmented or virtual reality (AR/VR). These worries are even bigger than those about cybersecurity(56%) and linking different apps or data sources(56%) or managing cloud systems and apps(55%), and handling data or analytics(54%). Still, almost half the bosses, are concerned about the lack of skills in basic tech support(48%) and managing computer networks(45%). This means that while trying to improve skills in new tech, we shouldn’t forget the importance of the basic stuff.

It is projected that by 2030, 94% of UK workers will need reskilling an estimated 20% of the UK workforce will be significantly under skilled for their jobs, which could amount to around 6.5 million people.

Gartner reports

The talent shortage is the most significant adoption barrier to 64% of emerging technologies such as;

  • Internet-connected devices (IoT)
  • Computer-thinking (AI)
  • Automation
  • Digital money systems (blockchain)
  • Augmented or virtual reality (AR/VR)
  • Cybersecurity
  • Linking different apps or data sources
  • Managing cloud systems and apps
  • Handling data or analytics

The Problem of the Talent Gap in the Tech Industry

Rapid technological change presents a paradoxical challenge for CTOs and tech leaders. Advances in technologies like AI and ML are happening so quickly that it can be hard to keep up, let alone make informed decisions about which technologies to invest in.

According to a Tech Nation report, there were approximately 870,000 vacancies in the tech and digital sector from January to May 2022. Simultaneously, the number of graduates from STEM and Computer Science related degrees for the academic year 2020/2021 was about 91,250. This suggests a significant disparity, with an 89.5% skills gap that needs to be filled, highlighting the urgent demand for skilled professionals in the tech industry.

“Narrowing skills gaps is the most pressing productivity challenge for the UK, and we know that around 80%** of employers feel that graduates are unfit for work when they leave university.”
James Kelly, CEO for Corndel said

The government also warns of a “mismatch” between graduates’ skills and the demands of employers. Commitment to continuous learning, a deep understanding of the latest trends, and the ability to harness these trends to drive business growth is no easy task.

Brexit has made it more difficult to find people for important IT jobs in the UK. Since splitting from the European Union, we’re struggling to replace the tech experts who used to come from EU countries. To deal with this, some businesses are teaching their current employees new skills, while others are teaming up with universities to help train the IT workers of the future. This situation means that decision-makers in business and government need to work together on long-term plans to deal with the shortage and keep UK organisations competitive.

In the ever-changing fields, software engineers must stay updated to design and develop solutions that leverage the latest technologies and meet user needs. Likewise, in DevOps, staying current with new tools and technologies is crucial to create a culture where software development and operations are unified, leading to efficient processes, high-quality software, and faster time to market. Keeping up in these fields is essential for success in adapting, innovating, and delivering value to the team and the organisation.

Adapting to technological changes Retaining talent and embracing EDI for sustainable success

Keeping talented workers is a big problem for companies, especially in areas where technology changes quickly. When a company can’t keep up with new technology, its employees might leave for better jobs with other companies. The company may also struggle to attract new workers. Over time, this could cause the company to lose its competitive edge or even risk becoming outdated.

Organisations must train their employees to stay current with the latest technology to avoid this. They should also reward workers who adapt quickly to change. By encouraging a culture of continuous learning, companies can ensure that their employees have the skills they need to stay competitive. It’s not enough to react to technological changes – companies must actively seek out and invest in new advancements. Keeping skilled workers in a constantly changing world isn’t just hard, it’s a constant challenge. But companies that can do this well can grow, improve efficiency, and stay relevant in the market. It’s a challenging task, but the rewards are worth it.

Embracing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in the context of technological adaptation is equally crucial. An inclusive and diverse work environment can generate many perspectives and innovative ideas. It fosters a sense of belonging, making employees more likely to stay in their role. As technology becomes increasingly ingrained in our lives, it’s essential to ensure that it is accessible and beneficial to all, regardless of background or abilities. Companies that adapt their technologies with an EDI lens can cater to a broader customer base, enhance user experience, and drive business growth. Integrating EDI into the technology adaptation process is not just a matter of social justice – it’s a business imperative for sustainable success.

Moving forward with a diverse new generation of Software Engineers

We need to tackle the problem of too few women in the tech industry. As of 2023, Tech Nation reports that only 26% of the tech workforce are women. This underrepresentation is a barrier to gender equality and curbs the industry’s capacity to innovate and grow. By encouraging women into tech and offering equal opportunities, we can benefit from a mix of unique skills and viewpoints that foster progress. Supporting women in tech not only helps individuals but also creates a more inclusive and successful industry. Gender-diverse companies are 48% more likely to outperform their competitors.

Zoopla’s Diversity-Driven Drive

The transformational journey of empowering women in tech

In partnership with Corndel, Zoopla had embraced diversity within their tech teams. Zoopla was a property portal website and app that provided estate agents with advertising opportunity through a website and affiliated partner websites. Zoopla’s Corndel cohort had consisted of 70% female learners, who had taken their first steps in an exciting tech career with Zoopla.

Catrin Anderson, Chief People Officer at Zoopla explained the drivers behind this unique recruitment drive. “We have ambitious plans for the future combined with a commitment to innovation, so we are very excited to launch our first apprenticeship programme. In particular we want to give opportunities to women who are looking to forge a career in technology and innovation, helping us build a pipeline of talent that will benefit our customers for years to come.”

The group’s journey had begun with a 12-week bootcamp, delivered through Corndel. Starting out with limited coding experience, they had been on a steep learning curve for 3 months and then joined their new colleagues in Zoopla’s product and tech team, at a Junior Developer level. Ongoing learning was then delivered via 12 monthly workshops which introduced the developers to more advanced concepts as they developed their engineering skills. The new recruits knew that after the bootcamp, they would be straight into a major rebuild of the Zoopla platform, quickly having the opportunity to apply their new skills.

Corndel's Software Engineering and DevOps Apprenticeships Solutions

As part of the solution to the technology skills gap, Corndel offers comprehensive Software Engineering and DevOps apprenticeships. These programmes aim to equip individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in the rapidly changing tech landscape. Corndel develops all its programmes and content based on employer demand and input, the implementation of Corndel apprenticeships can be fully funded by the Apprenticeship Levy for UK employers who are paying into it. This is a significant incentive for businesses, as it helps reduce the costs associated with providing high-quality training and professional development opportunities.

The role of CTOs and Tech leaders in shaping the future of Levy funded Tech education

One of the most effective ways to bridge the technology skills gap is through apprenticeship programmes. Corndel’s Software Engineering and DevOps apprenticeships, funded through the Apprenticeship Levy, provide a unique opportunity for individuals to gain hands-on experience and develop the skills needed to thrive in the tech industry. These apprenticeships offer a blend o25f practical training and theoretical knowledge, ensuring that participants are well-prepared to tackle the challenges of the ever-evolving tech landscape. The Apprenticeship Levy allows companies to invest in their workforce without significant financial strain, thereby enhancing their ability to adapt to rapid technological changes.

Benefits of apprenticeships

For CTOs and tech leaders, embracing the apprenticeship model in their organisations can be a game-changer. By integrating learning with work, apprenticeships help businesses develop a workforce with the right skills for job their job role that’s ready to meet current and future technological demands. This approach helps nurture talent from within the organisation and reduces dependency on external recruitment.

Moreover, apprenticeships can be a compelling means to enhance diversity in the tech sector. By creating inclusive apprenticeship programs, companies can foster a diverse talent pipeline that brings fresh perspectives, encourages innovation, and promotes inclusivity.

CTOs and CIOs play an instrumental role in fostering talent and enhancing workforce capabilities. Tech leaders have the opportunity to pioneer new pathways for tech education. Through apprenticeship programs such as those offered by Corndel in Software Engineering and DevOps, they can cultivate the next generation of tech professionals.

With Corndel Tech leaders can collaborate to ensure the curriculum remains relevant to the industry’s demands and what their organisation needs. By implementing Technology apprenticeships within organisations this encourages lifelong learning and continuous skill development for tech teams.

What is the Apprenticeship Levy

This is even more relevant for companies paying the Apprenticeship Levy, as the levy turns a tax expense into an investment in the company’s future workforce. Additionally, apprenticeships promote diversity and inclusion by providing opportunities for individuals from different backgrounds to enter the tech industry. Moreover, these programmes foster a culture of continuous learning and innovation within the organisation, driving long-term success. By effectively utilising the Apprenticeship Levy, companies can achieve these benefits while mitigating the cost of training.

If you’re looking for solutions to bridge the technology skills gaps, empower your workforce, champion change and influence tech education.

Consider exploring Corndel’s Software Engineering and DevOps apprenticeships. These programmes can help you reskill and upskill your employees and to help build a robust, diverse and skilled workforce ready to meet the challenges of the future and ultimately deliver success.