Four in five businesses struggle to fill IT vacancies

Research from recruitment experts ManpowerGroup reveals that four in five (80 per cent) organisations hiring for IT vacancies struggle to fill positions

Widespread skills shortages and ongoing economic uncertainty are proving key challenges for businesses across all industries, while competition stayed heated, calling for digital innovation made possible by diverse skill sets.

The 80 per cent of IT companies reporting difficulty filling roles was still a lower sector proportion than energy & utilities (88 per cent), healthcare & life sciences (83 per cent), and transport & logistics (81 per cent).

Meanwhile, 65 per cent of organisations in the communications services sectors reported shortages.

Regardless of sector, there has been an acceleration in the adoption of technology, leading to IT and data skills being the most in-demand skills for firms — 27 per cent cited these technical capabilities as elusive recruitment targets, while a fifth (20 per cent) can’t find engineering skills in the market.

At the same time, jobs are increasingly calling for strong soft skills that prove difficult to find among talent pools, including ‘critical thinking and analysis’ (28 per cent), ‘leadership and social influence’ (26 per cent), and ‘initiative taking’ (25 per cent).

The reported shortages mark a 17-year high, with the number of businesses reporting skills shortages growing six-fold over the last decade (from 13 per cent in 2013), and more than doubling since 2019 (35 per cent).

80 per cent of UK businesses reported continuing difficulty filling jobs in general — more than double the pre-pandemic high of 35 per cent in 2019.

“Talent shortages are always an area of concern for employers, but the real step change in our data can be seen post 2019. The pandemic exacerbated the shifts we had predicted to shape the future of the workplace — changing age demographics and evolving technology — which have heated up the battle for talent,” said Michael Stull, director at ManpowerGroup UK.

“Many employers remember how long it took to bring workers back post-pandemic and they’re acutely aware of the growing scarcity of key skills, so they’re holding onto and trying to stockpile business critical talent. Just in time hiring does not work anymore, just in case hiring is more the mantra.

“Organisations need to flip their HR and people practices and put more emphasis on retaining and upskilling rather than just hiring to plug gaps. The focus needs to be on investing in long-term skills, creating jobs that people want, providing upward mobility and enabling a better work/life balance.

“We’re pleased with the government’s recent pledge to support and guide workers who are keen to re-join or remain in employment. Now it’s time for employers to go one step further, preparing the workplace and ensuring training opportunities to meet those returning needs.”

2,020 UK employers from across multiple sectors were surveyed by staffing and recruitment experts ManpowerGroup, for its annual Talent Shortage survey.


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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.