By Daniel Hunter

74 per cent of current IT leaders have experienced difficulty recruiting staff with the necessary skills and experience they require according to new research commissioned by Reconnix.

When asked on the issue of hiring qualified staff, only 12 per cent of those responsible for hiring technology related positions believed that there were ample or surplus candidates adequately skilled for the jobs on offer. This however is in stark contrast to the optimism of 82 per cent of current technology students and graduates, who remain positive with regard to employment prospects despite employers’ belief that skills and experience are lacking.

The Gap Years study surveyed 100 UK-based IT leaders and contrasted opinions against a further 200 technology students and graduates to aggregate their thoughts on the issues affecting the current IT job market in the UK.

Despite a continued drive from the government to promote the uptake of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects at second and third level, the report identified a number of key technical areas currently facing a talent drought. Web application development (38 per cent), Internet and networking (36 per cent) and data analysis (34 per cent), were all highlighted as talent black spots for employers.

Support roles proved more alluring to students and graduates with server support (38 per cent) and desktop support (34 per cent) being the two most popular preferred job roles. In contrast, only 18 per cent of students were considering careers in data analysis or networking each, despite these being the hardest roles to fill for employers suggesting a greater emphasis needs to be placed on nurturing skills with the potential for higher value creation such as development.

“The technology sector is currently facing a massive challenge in finding the properly qualified staff it needs to grow, explains Pat Nice, CEO or Reconnix. “The UK tech sector has been one of the darlings of the UK’s economic recovery but its full potential will not be reached as long as companies face difficulty in filling key technical positions.”

“Optimism from current students and graduates is encouraging to see following years of uncertainty, but the reality is that many are not at the level that employers need them to be at. Graduates are leaving university with a broad understanding of technology, but lacking critical skills that employers actually require. Employers need to take a more hands-on approach to help develop talent in the industry, whether this is working more closely with education establishments or directly training through apprenticeship programmes.”

Setting the standard: Increased standardisation to bridge skills gap

Both employers and graduates and students are in concurrence that the standardisation of technology related qualifications can benefit the industry. 56 per cent of employers want to see professional training standards further developed, while 66 per cent of IT Students and graduates want to see standardised awards to make it easier to find work. Employers also believe that businesses should be prepared to foot some of this bill with 54 per cent believing that industry should at least part fund training.

Remuneration is identified by both parties as the main motivator for careers in technology. 54 per cent of employers highlight salary being the biggest factor in career choice, while 43 per cent of students and graduates admit to being motivated by money, despite being closely followed by a passion for technology and innovation as the second biggest motivator (41 per cent) suggesting an enthusiasm amongst current graduates for their chosen industry.

“Standardisation is vital for the continued success of the technology sector in the UK. As it stands, new graduates are coming from a variety of different institutions with a range of different skills making it difficult to assess suitability for a position on qualification alone. Standards will allow employers to more easily assess candidates, and also allow students to more easily choose a course. It should also have the added benefit of creating a more competitive academic environment that should see a raise in the standard of education and training across the board.”