One thing is certain, Britain is facing an uncertain future. This means UK businesses across all industries are facing significant challenges. Do we have the skills to deal with them? More importantly, should businesses be changing their strategy to accommodate a skills shortage?
With Brexit constantly hounding the news, cyber-security incidents on the rise and the introduction of GDPR, Britain is facing an uncertain future. This is excluding accommodating innovative technologies to help UK businesses lead the global technological race. As services are our largest industry; technological advancements are essential for the UK. But how do we deal with the skills shortage.
What the businesses are saying
According to Serviceteam IT’s Beyond the Cloud: UK Technology Research 2018 in partnership with Doogheno, 24% of respondents listed a skills shortage as the external factor which had the greatest impact on their business since 2017. Additionally, the same percentage of respondents also listed a skills shortage as the greatest impact on their business in the next 36 months.
70% of respondents were unsure if they have the skill set or did not have the skill set to fully capitalise on emerging technologies in the future. Emerging technologies include Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Edge, Internet of Things and Robotic Process Automation. These technologies are the start of the digital revolution and utilising innovative technology will help to mitigate future challenges facing the UK.
This may be a result of skilled younger EU citizens leaving the UK because of Brexit. This may also be due to lack of funding in the education sector, which Serviceteam IT’s survey also revealed. In terms of funding, if less is spent on IT or educating about technology, there will be a decrease in the number of skilled workers.
How to approach the skills shortage
Approach University Students & Millennials
Students in UK universities are the best chance to revolutionise business with knowledgeable people who are eager to learn new information and be educated in different sectors.
Alcus Erasmus, Information Security Manager at MAG Airports, including Manchester Airport, London Stansted and East Midlands Airports mentioned his department specifically are collaborating with Universities such as the University of Glasgow and Cardiff University. The organisation brings in student resources who have basic qualifications invest time and effort in training them to meet their requirements. Generally, the organisation has found finding their specific skills in the general market difficult and expensive. As a result, the last couple of recruits were under the age of 30 years old.
Therefore, a business will end up with a talented, educated and youthful workforce for the coming years. It may seem like the last thing which is needed is to hire and train more staff, but it may be necessary in the long term.
Increase skilled starting salaries
To get ahead of competitors, especially foreign competitors, the starting salary for the IT department needs to reflect the scale of the job. As emerging technologies are becoming more prevalent and necessary in modern society, the IT department need to be innovative and engaged to make bold changes within a business. This also needs to be reflected in the salary.
Caron Alexander, Director of Digital Shared Services at the Department of Finance commented that in government, the environment is not as flexible in terms of salaries. The department have managed to increase the starting salary for IT graduates as this is very competitive. You may wonder what happens to these graduates after the two-year training scheme. Caron argues that as the progression in public service is not as accommodating, the department try to highlight the attractiveness of the public sector in comparison to working in the private sector.
Continually educate your workforce
Having a fully functioning and trained workforce is paramount to a success of a business.
Colin Jack, Care and Learning, Service Support and Information Manager from the Highland Council mentioned that his department are trying to develop skills to make use of Power BI tools and DAX language. He found there were 10-12,000 employees in the Highland Council using Excel in the way it was used in 1997. As Colin works alongside 207 schools across an area the size of Belgium, he believes DAX language would be more efficient in management of data, but it is difficult to find people who have knowledge or experience of this.
Train your workforce so they use the IT you want them to. In the current business environment in the UK, it is not safe to assume they know what to do.
Swallow extra costs to have a highly trained workforce
Ian Brown, Director of IT and MIS from Myerscough College commented that the problem in IT is that external training is very expensive. This money isn’t available as the easiest thing to cut back on is the training budget.
It is important to note that investment needs to be put into people. This must not be forgotten in a business, especially those with a larger budget which can be used for training purposes.
With the prevalent skills shortages and the uncertain future of the UK, it can be daunting to run, or start up a business. However, there are ways to make sure your business thrives. Although there is huge concern with migration and the free movement of people, approaching university students, offering a competitive salary, providing incentives to work for your business, and educating and training your workforce will stand you in good stead for the future.