Leadership & Productivity

Firms globalise IT to mitigate Brexit skills gap risk

3 min read

15 September 2017

Former special projects journalist

A possible Brexit skills gap has prompted many businesses to start looking elsewhere for tech talent.

As arguments on the impact of leaving the EU continue to swirl, a possible Brexit skills gap has been identified as an IT-specific problem.

Nearly six in ten organisations are committed to digitalisation projects over the coming year, and 96 per cent believe the cost of professionals with the appropriate expertise is higher than for other IT initiatives. Nearly half (48 per cent) cite the skills shortage as a problem.

This is according to a survey of UK IT leaders by Interoute, which concluded 97 per cent of organisations were dependent on contractors to support projects on an interim basis.

As a result, businesses have started to look elsewhere – on average, 42 per cent of employees working on digital transformation projects do not have a UK passport. This suggests that the Brexit skills gap could if changes are made to rules governing how contractors are employed.

More than three-quarters of organisations suggest hiring restrictions would impact the timescale of projects – 28 per cent of respondents stated that an inability to hire contractors would put a stop to digital transformation plans completely.

In response to this perceived challenge, 38 per cent of respondents claimed they will look to globalise their infrastructure to enable the business to gain access to skills from outside the UK.

Mark Lewis, EVP products and development at Interoute, said: “Businesses are relying on digital transformation projects to deliver long-term future success in a changing world. Faced with a short supply and higher cost base for digital skills, organisations are not just looking at ways to access more talent, but also looking to focus that talent on the specific technology that differentiates the business.

“Each want to avoid drawn-out systems and infrastructure integration projects that can be costly, take a long time to become operational and be slow to evolve.

The key to addressing a Brexit skills gap, Lewis added, is to create a system where an organisation can shift from worrying about piecing together network and clouds to instead choosing and developing the best software.

“Do this by leveraging pre-integrated global infrastructure, so your most valuable skills can be put towards making a difference for your business,” he added.

Three in four business in the UK are facing a digital skills shortage, according to a study by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). Around 52 per cent reported a slight shortage, 21 per cent a significant shortage and three per cent a critical shortage.

This article is part of a wider campaign called the Scale-up Hub, a section of Real Business that provides essential advice and inspiration on taking your business to the next level. It’s produced in association with webexpenses and webonboarding, a fast-growing global organisation that provides cloud-based software services that automate expenses management and streamline the employee onboarding process.