The tech talent shortage: A sustainable solution

As the Tech revolution continues to transform every facet of our lives, the need for skilled tech professionals is soaring. The demand is outpacing the supply of talent, leading to a significant tech talent shortage in the UK. This blog aims to shed light on the causes and impacts of this issue, and more importantly, how businesses can leverage apprenticeships as a sustainable solution.

The problem of tech talent shortages

Understanding the UK tech talent shortage

The tech talent shortage is a complex issue that is causing ripples across the UK’s economic landscape. One of the primary reasons is the rapid advancement of technology, which is creating a growing demand for skills that did not exist a few years ago such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain and more. The education system is struggling to keep pace with these changes, resulting in a lack of employees with the necessary skills.

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.

The importance of addressing the tech talent shortage cannot be overstated. It was found that 60% of bosses in the UK are worried about their teams not having the right skills for new tech.

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

Impact on businesses in the UK

As businesses increasingly rely on technology to operate and innovate, the demand for skilled tech professionals will continue to rise. A survey conducted by Hays recorded 94% of employers reported a lack of tech talent, an increase from 89% the previous year. This situation poses a significant challenge for businesses looking to grow and compete in the global economy, as it limits their ability to leverage new technologies, innovate, and improve efficiency. In the long run, the tech talent shortage could hinder the UK’s economic growth by an estimated £63 billion a year in lost profit potential and competitiveness.

The BBC reports The UK technology sector has a talent shortage which could “stifle growth”, an industry body has warned. Liz Scott, from TechNation, said it was “a real issue” which must be rectified. There were more than two million UK job vacancies in tech last year, more than any other labour area.

Impact on human resources

Despite the surge in tech job losses recently – 200,000 globally and 16,000 in Europe last year, according to Atomico – the pre-existing gap in tech talent remains daunting. This high unemployment hasn’t significantly alleviated the pressing issue of not having enough skilled tech workers. The effect of these layoffs is very small, and doesn’t fix the problem.

Gawer says that these job losses might lead to a slight ease in the shortage, as these workers might find jobs in other companies. But this effect won’t last long. Official stats from CompTIA show that the tech unemployment rate went up a little from just under 2% to just over 2% in January 2023. This is still lower than the general unemployment rate of under 4%. So, even though there have been layoffs, it hasn’t had a big effect on the tech skills gap.

The lack of tech skills is causing a lot of problems for HR departments in the UK. McKinsey reports every company needs to use technology to stay competitive, and there’s a big rush to hire tech talent. But the companies weren’t ready for this, and HR are under a lot of pressure to hire and keep tech workers. This is leading to more people leaving jobs, and higher costs for hiring.

McKinsey further revealed 87% of HR professionals said they had only a few or no qualified applicants for their job openings. The main problem is that technology is developing quickly, but there aren’t enough skilled workers to keep up. Even though there have been recent layoffs, this hasn’t done much to solve the tech skills gap in the UK.

Leveraging apprenticeships as a solution

Fully funded technology apprenticeships have emerged as an effective solution to address the tech talent shortage that many businesses currently face. These apprenticeships offer numerous advantages such as delivering targeted training in essential skills, providing opportunities for practical, hands-on learning, and creating a steady stream of future talent tailored to business needs.

Skilling up future talent

Leveraging apprenticeships allows businesses to strategically develop their future workforce and enhance their current talent pool. This process not only equips individuals with necessary technical skills and industry knowledge, but also presents a mutually beneficial outcome where businesses secure a skilled workforce and apprentices acquire valuable experience alongside a qualification.

It’s also essential to recognise the potential in current employees who may be ready to take on new roles. Concentrating solely on current roles, rather than potential, is a common oversight. CIPD resourcing and talent planning survey reports, 58% of UK based HR/people professions reports recruiting for senior and skilled roles was most challenging.  Additionally, in industries like tech, where job changes are frequent, offering continuous training and development programmes becomes integral to retain good employees. The employee value proposition should extend beyond just a competitive salary, encompassing opportunities for continuous learning and growth. This approach not only maintains high motivation and satisfaction levels among employees but also plays a pivotal role in nurturing loyalty and long-term commitment to your company.

Futureproof your EDI strategy

Technology apprenticeships can be a powerful catalyst for Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in organisations. They break down socio-economic barriers and facilitate social mobility by offering hands-on training and skill development to individuals who may not otherwise have such opportunities. Apprenticeships empower underrepresented groups, such as women in STEM fields, by fostering an inclusive environment that nurtures their talents and enhances their competitiveness in the technology sector. They also provide those from less affluent backgrounds with a practical pathway to high-growth tech careers, elevating their economic status and fuelling social progression.

Apprenticeships offer an alternative solution to degrees and other providers that eat into significant training budgets. Particularly in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), apprenticeships provide an effective pathway to career advancement, hands-on training, experience, coaching and business critical skills. These benefits are especially important for women and other underrepresented groups in STEM, as they can lead to better outcomes.

As of 2023, Tech Nation reports that only 26% of the tech workforce are women. This underrepresentation is a barrier to gender equality and kerbs 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. Businesses with a healthy mix of ethnic backgrounds are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors.

Technology apprenticeships are a valuable tool for organisations that are committed to EDI

They offer a number of benefits;

  • Breaking down socio-economic barriers
  • Empowering underrepresented groups
  • Providing a practical pathway to high-growth tech careers
  • Fostering an inclusive environment
  • Offering an alternative solution to degrees and other providers

Organisations that offer technology apprenticeships are not only helping to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce, but they are also positioning themselves for success in the future.

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.

The future of tech talent and apprenticeships

The tech talent shortage is a complex issue that requires concerted efforts from businesses, educators, and policymakers. HR are in a pivotal position to lead the change that’s needed. Apprenticeships present a viable solution, offering a win-win situation for businesses and individuals. By investing in apprenticeships, businesses can nurture a pipeline of skilled tech talent, foster innovation, and promote diversity in the industry. At Corndel, we are committed to offering world-class apprenticeship programmes that help businesses navigate the tech talent shortage and build a future-ready workforce.

Corndel's Software Engineering & DevOps apprenticeships

At Corndel, we recognise the need for practical, industry-relevant training to address the tech talent shortage. Our software engineering and DevOps apprenticeships are designed to deliver measurable impact for employers and students alike.

We offer highly personalised programmes delivered by industry experts, focusing on the most in-demand tech skills. Our approach involves co-designing programmes with employers to meet their specific needs. This approach allows us to develop a bespoke curriculum that addresses the unique challenges and objectives of each business, ensuring that our apprentices can contribute immediately to their employers’ success.

Corndel Tech apprenticeships, with their focus on EDI and support for women in Tech/STEM, provide a viable solution to all challenges business face towards the technology skills gap. They offer a pathway to a diverse and inclusive workforce, fostering innovation and competitiveness in the tech industry.

If your business is facing a tech skills gap, now is the time to act. Corndel tech apprenticeships can support your programme’s success.