Two in three IT employers struggle to recruit staff with adequate digital skills

Two people at a job interview sat at a desk
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

More than two in three (69%) IT employers are struggling to recruit new staff members with adequate digital skills, according to recent research from Open University.

The survey found that three quarters (77%) of the 425 senior UK IT decision-makers claimed that they are currently facing a digital skills gap in their organisation.

Digital skills are in high demand due to the range of benefits that they can offer to an organisation. Almost one in two (48%) of surveyed IT employers believe that digital skills will increase their business’ profitability, while 46% see them as a way of improving productivity within the business and making the company more competitive in the marketplace (45%).

Despite this, 57% of employers claim that their organisation doesn’t invest enough in digital skills.

While struggling to recruit adequately-skilled staff, half (48%) of the UK-based IT decision-makers believe that upskilling their current employees would help them avoid expensive new hires.

However, 62% of the respondents admitted that they are also finding it difficult to upskill their current employees with the digital skills required for their organisation. This includes cyber security, which is the most in-demand skill lacked by 42% of organisations, as well as software development (36%) and network engineering (24%).


The Total Economic Impact™ of IBM Watson Assistant

Cost savings and business benefits enabled by Watson Assistant


Commenting on the findings, the Open University’s director of Apprenticeships and Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) Jacky Hinton said that the survey “shows that it can be challenging to recruit staff into digital roles and keep existing employees up to date with relevant digital skills” as organisations’ reliance on digital capabilities increases.

Hinton described HTQs as “a new route to provide the skills needed to close some of these critical gaps in organisations”.

“Approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, they have been developed in collaboration with employers against particular occupational standards. The Open University is proud to be one of the first institutions to offer HTQs in network engineering and software development, which as the results show, are some of the roles that employers lack and are finding it challenging to recruit for,” she added.

The findings come five months after the UK reached an “all-time high” in the digital skills shortage, including a major shortage of talent in cyber security, big data analytics, and technical architects.

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.