Is overseas talent the answer to the UK’s skills shortage?
4 min read
01 October 2015
The skills shortage in the UK is getting worse, and it is affecting the IT industry more than most. What is the solution?
That’s the upshot of the Hays Global Skills Index, released this week, and it adds to a growing body evidence that shows that there just aren’t enough home-grown candidates to fill the specialist IT roles required by the UK economy.
June’s Report On Jobs from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) found that IT professionals were the fourth most sought-after profession in the UK and a lack of people to fill these roles was affecting companies’ ability to grow.
A third of businesses that responded to this years’ Tech City UK report also considered a lack of local talent to be one of their biggest barriers to growth.
Encouraging STEM is not working
So how can this problem be solved? Current evidence suggests that government-backed drives to get more children interested in working in STEM-related subjects isn’t working – specially among girls, who are five times less likely than boys to want to become engineers, according to recent research. It seems we just can’t tempt our youth into jobs in the computer science sector, despite them being among the best-paid roles.
Evidence suggests that the UK will require 750,000 digitally-skilled workers by 2017, and if the skills of the graduates that we are producing aren’t up to scratch – or even in the right area – then we need to look elsewhere, and fast.
Is overseas talent the answer?
Bringing in talent from overseas is also fraught with difficulty. Government policies have restricted the ability of UK-based companies to hire talented developers from outside the EU, with the Tier 2 Visa plans proving unfit for purpose.
While Eastern Europe has provided an option for some companies, it’s still an expensive gamble. And given the lacklustre economic performance of the BRICS countries, it’s worth looking elsewhere, further afield, to find skilled IT workers.
For example, universities in the Philippines are producing 130,000 IT and Engineering graduates each year – many times that produced by Romania – and IT is one of the highest paid sectors in the country.
Read more about the UK’s skills shortage and what needs to change:
- Addressing the UK’s skills gap: Where should we start?
- Tackling the IT skills shortage
- Recruiting foreign skilled workers: The cap doesn’t fit
There are many compelling reasons why British companies with IT recruitment problems should consider working with the Philippines. The Philippines’ IT outsourcing industry is growing at an annual rate of 30 per cent, which is faster than India.
UK SMEs with restricted budget can also look at sending some of their operations overseas, rather than importing the right talent to meet their needs.
Outsourcing isn’t for everyone, though. While outsourcing giants like Accenture are geared up to work with UK customers that need anywhere from 50 and up positions filled, many UK SMEs find themselves in the position where it’s just a handful – maybe even just one –of positions they need to fill.
Not being able to do so can seriously affect their ability to grow, or perhaps mean that they may have to close down. But what they may not realise is that there are options that will meet their smaller scale – relatively speaking, of course – needs, and won’t cost them a fortune either.
Nick Hargreaves is co-founder of Cloud Employee.