How Four UK. Tech Firms Are Tackling Serious Talent Shortages
Skill shortages are posing a serious risk to growth across many industry sectors, and for the UK.’s buoyant tech sector the threat has reached an all-time high.
The 2021 Harvey Nash Group Digital Leadership Report found that almost two-thirds (63%) of digital leaders from smaller companies are struggling to keep pace with change because of a dearth of the talent they require, most notably in cyber security (39%), big data/analysts (34%), development (31%), DevOps (28%). This comes at a time when companies are focusing on creating new products and services, and therefore need developers to do this work.
Organizations are reacting to the growing tech skills crisis in several ways, as Bev White, CEO at Harvey Nash Group explains. “Firstly, they’re casting their recruitment net wider, considering candidates based further afield than they would have done before due to the new remote working model,” she says. “Parallel to this they are developing new, attractive employee offers that reflect the new home-office hybrid working environment.”
Extending the domestic market
Launched in 2013, CXC provides tech consultancy to the government and industry. With offices in London and Swindon, the firm, which has 50 permanent members of staff, has always recruited locally but is now looking farther afield for the skills it requires.
Business development manager Jon Carter says: “As many clients have migrated to home or hybrid working our ability to recruit from wider geographic areas to meet the core demands; p3m, cyber and change management, has followed. We can recruit from much further north of the country, while placing candidates into roles based in the south, as flexible or hybrid options.”
The company has invested in accommodation for staff who want to either travel and work in the office a couple of days a week, or work on client premises in London or the South West.
“Having staff accommodation close to the office or client premises is viewed as a valuable benefit by employees and candidates, but the real difference has been in our approach to hybrid working,” says Carter. “We support our team to work from home with company IT and assistance towards home office requirements, delivering a better work-life balance that enhances talent acquisition and retention.”
Hiring remote talent from overseas
Over the past year savings and investments app Chip has doubled the size of its team, thanks to a switch to hybrid working that has allowed the firm to hire more talent from overseas.
COO Sharon Miles says: “Most of our engineers are based in the UK., but we have onboarded talent from overseas, including mobile, QA and backend engineers from Spain, Poland, Latvia and Ukraine, who work remotely, like the majority of our engineering team.”
Securing talent from overseas is not without its challenges. The impact of Brexit on labor mobility has been compounded by a global shortage of tech talent, making this a candidate’s market.
Miles says: “Most of our applicants have multiple offers from different companies, so competition among employers is fierce, and this is where culture and competitive pay are key.”
Time and trust: top benefits for talent
A few weeks ago cybersecurity startup IriusRisk introduced a four-day week for its technical departments, including developers, QA and security analysts, as a means of attracting and retaining top talent. Word of mouth communication traveled so quickly among the developer/cybersecurity community that within 24 hours the company had received ten new resumes, four of which were contacted for interviews.
Cofounder and COO Cristina Bentue, says “We decided to take a creative approach to the problem and ask our development teams what they desired beyond money. The answer was simple: time and trust. In response, we introduced the four-day week, which has also led to improvements in productivity over a normal working week, with the added benefit of a better work-life balance for our staff.”
Gig workers and freelancers could help to ease some of the UK’s tech staffing woes, particularly in software engineering and other in-demand tech roles. Engaging remote freelancers can be more attractive from an economic point of view, especially for startups and fledgling companies, because of the lower overheads, and UK. fintech startup Wedo is helping to bring them together.
Founder Indiana Gregg says: “By 2027 freelancers will make up more than 52% of the global job market, with many choosing to do it for the independence and flexibility that it brings. Hiring freelancers and gig workers can help a company scale quickly, and hiring those from overseas also boosts diversity, which can lead to higher levels of creativity and innovation.”
When it comes to choosing the right candidates, the challenges around hiring freelancers are virtually the same as hiring full-time employees. “Regardless of whether a business is hiring freelancers or full-time employees ensuring a good cultural fit is critical,” says Gregg.