It will come as no surprise that the UK has a digital skills gap – and we are simply creating more jobs that we can fill.
As one of the fastest growing parts of the of the economy, the UK’s digital sectors account for 16% of GVA, 24% of total UK exports, and three million jobs. It is evident that digital businesses are key drivers of productivity and will underpin the success of the UK’s economy in years to come.
Many of the skills required to deliver growth and innovation in the tech sector are founded on high-level digital skills – the skills required to pursue digitally intensive careers. However, the UK tech sector faces a digital skills crisis: the dynamism of the sector means tech creates new jobs at nearly three times the rate of the rest of the economy, and the demand far outstrips the supply.
The range and scope of statistics on the digital skills gap is varied, however they all paint the same picture – the UK faces a digital skills crisis. Data gathered by Vacancysoft for techUK revealed a total of 51,882 unique tech vacancies in 2016. Organisations ranging from charities to FTSE 100 tech companies were found to be recruiting for roles which require higher level digital skills such as senior developer, data analyst, cyber security analyst, software engineer and more. The Government’s own report on the digital skills crisis stated that the shortage in skills represents a key bottleneck for industry and is linked to one in five of all vacancies. Lastly, the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee found that the UK will require a further 745,000 highly-skilled digital workers by 2017 alone.
So how do we tackle this crisis?
As Digital Minister Matt Hancock stated, “You can’t catch all the fish if you only fish in half the pool.” He’s quite right – attracting more women into tech is one key facet of addressing the digital skills gap.
Women occupy just 17% of tech jobs, and fewer than one in ten of these women are in leadership positions in the sector. A lack of female applicants makes it difficult for tech businesses to achieve a more even gender balance, and means businesses miss out on a large proportion of the talent pool. As the tech sector has recognised that it suffers the consequences of a lack of gender balance, it has become evident more must be done in partnership to ensure the female tech talent pipeline is cultivated.
That’s why techUK is proud to be a founding signatory and a steering committee organisation for the Tech Talent Charter - a commitment by organisations to a set of undertakings that aim to deliver greater diversity in the tech workforce of the UK, one that better reflects the make-up of the population.
Signatories of the charter make a number of pledges in relation to their approach to recruitment and retention. Although this is an employer-led initiative, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has backed the Charter and have even signed themselves.
The charter will also require signatories to submit annual data, which is aggregated and anonymised. This will then inform the Charter’s benchmarking reports. As our President, Jacqueline de Rojas said: “The data sharing provision in the Tech Talent Charter means that we can start to build a better picture of the issue in the industry and track whether there is any improvement.”
One of the key drivers of the initiative is our Women in Tech Council Chair, Susan Bowen, who is now a Director of the Tech Talent Charter. Through her hard work, Susan has been an influential advocate for the charter and has tirelessly worked with techUK to get more signatories. Now we have an ambition to sign up 500 organisations by end of 2018. This is where we need your help!
The TTC is for Start-ups to Multi-Nationals spanning all industry sectors from entertainment to banking. Essentially, if you employ tech talent and are keen to do more than talk about the problems then do sign up. Together we can create solutions, take action and share best practice.
We have already successfully signed up 100 companies who have pledged to make change. Get in touch if you’d like to be part of the movement.