HCR Law Events

21 September 2023

Why is the UK facing a staffing and skills shortage in cyber and technology?

If you’ve talked to any HR professional or hiring manager recently, you will probably have heard the same complaint: they a struggling to fill their job vacancies. The talent shortage in the UK is a complaint across all industries from manual labour to traditional professions. HCR’s latest Future Workspaces report addresses the current skills shortages, what it means for employers and how they can overcome it.

Cyber and technology companies face many of the same issues as other professional employers – working patterns, competitive salaries, and employee retention. These can be particularly acute in an industry with a global talent pool, where smaller employers can be competing against salaries and perks offered by huge global players.

Small employers cannot always compete on pay, but they can compete by being a great place to work. Money is important to everyone in a cost-of-living crisis, but a report by Deloitte recently found that Gen Z is less motivated by money than any previous generation.

They value purpose, diversity and meaning in their roles far more than any previous generation. They expect to see support for neurodiversity and latticed career paths that do not box people in early on. Becoming an employer of choice should be a priority for any employer seeking to fill their job vacancies.

Cyber and technology – particularly cyber – also face their own specific challenges with skills shortages. It is a fast-changing industry where education has not always found it easy to keep pace with employer requirements. One of the ways for employers to navigate this is to recruit earlier, both in their own timeline and their employees’ careers.

Scoping a job by reference to core competencies, drive and passion rather than technical experience and qualifications means investing in employee development, but massively broadens the recruitment pool. It is also a great opportunity to build employee loyalty – particularly if you can utilise an employee incentive like an EMI share scheme to offer long term rewards.

Making use of apprentices is also a great way to build skills in-house. Providers like Gloucestershire College are working hard to develop new educational paths to facilitate these careers. For 2023/24 they are launching Dev Ops Engineer Level 4 and Digital and Technology Solutions (Software Engineer) Level 6 Degree apprenticeships. These have arisen out of the feedback they received from the industry on their needs.

Specialist recruiters are experiencing another challenge: employers who don’t really know what they are trying to recruit. One recruiter I know recently told a story of an individual who had been heavily involved in creating a particular piece of tech being rejected by a potential employer for not having ‘three years of experience’ in that very new technology.

Hopefully most employers have not got themselves quite that confused but credential based perceptions of your candidates can be particularly destructive in newer industries.

Plan early, invest in development, engage with educational providers on what you need and think outside the box. Careers in cyber and technology are really exciting and attractive careers for prospective employees; the talent is out there.

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About the Author
Rowena Kay, Legal Director

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