The tech talent shortage faced by UK companies comes not from a scarcity of developers, but from recruiters not knowing what to look for, suggests results from a new global survey.
There have been plenty of surveys of employers bemoaning the lack of skilled tech talent, but few have asked the developer workforce themselves what is holding them back from taking their next job.
The biggest study ever undertaken by Stack Overflow, the world's largest online community for developers, saw more than 56,000 responses from 173 countries, with the UK as the second largest represented group after the US.
The developer help site gets over 40 million visitors a month, looking to get or give help on programming projects.
The survey reveals that 73% of them are either actively looking or open to new job opportunities, representing a huge opportunity for tech recruiters in the UK. But coders say that recruiters show a lack of understanding of the developer community.
More than 51% labelled recruiters as the most annoying part of the job search process. For this reason they tend to avoid recruiters altogether – a referral from friend was the most popular way to find new jobs in the vast majority of countries.
Although many job listings call for formal qualifications, a huge number of developers have non-traditional education, with 71% identifying themselves as partially self-taught.
Developers want to learn things on the job – 70% say they prioritise learning new technologies, and there is also a clear desire among UK developers for new programming languages to be introduced in the workplace.
Paid work experience might not count for everything: according to the survey results the average developer has 6.5 years experience in IT or programming, but this is generally gained by a mix of employment and unpaid, personal projects.
The top priorities for the UK developer when job searching are salary, culture and achieving a good work-life balance.
Once employed, unrealistic expectations, poor documentation, and unspecific requirements are the most common workplace gripes.
'The 2016 Stack Overflow developer study reveals that the majority of UK developers are in fact open to new career opportunities, but at the moment some recruiters simply do not know how to attract and engage with developers, which in this market is a big problem,' says Angela Nyman, Director of International Marketing at Stack Overflow. 'It’s vital that recruiters are given the right tools to develop their knowledge and understanding of how developers work. At Stack Overflow, we are committed to bridging the gap and driving this change.'