Government response to tech skills gap: cyber security and coding


In the wake of an autumn budget where Chancellor Phillip Hammond outlined significant investment in IT training, new research from job board CWJobs has revealed that 94% of tech employers believe there is an industry-wide skills shortage.

The government is taking steps to address the skills gap with plans to treble the number of computer science teachers in schools, introduce a national centre for computing, and boost digital skills with the provision of distance learning courses.

It is welcome news for tech employers. In research conducted prior to the budget announcement, CWJobs found that 65% of employers thought the government had not invested enough in training the next generation of tech employees.

>See also: How to future-proof tech skills and stay ahead of the curve

The government was by no means solely responsible however, with 75% of employers saying universities were primarily responsible for ensuring that employees joining the tech industry were equipped with the right skills.

Employers are not shirking their responsibilities either, with only 61% of those surveyed saying their company has its own training programme for entry-level employees, who are looking to be trained in a new area of their business.

Three-quarters (75%) of employers agree that universities should be responsible for making sure tech employees are equipped with the necessary skills the industry is currently lacking. Over 80% of tech companies said they are currently struggling to fill cyber security roles, with 30% believing this is due to an industry skills gap.

Unprepared for cyber attacks

Despite this, only 51% of tech workers said that cyber security was included in their training, and almost one in four (23%) say they are not confident in handling a cyber security attack.

It is perhaps unsurprising then that 50% of employees said their company is either unprepared for a cyber attack or are unsure of the company position. Despite this, only half (50%) of employers look for cyber security skills when recruiting new tech talent.

>See also: The technology skills race: leave no employee behind 

More worryingly perhaps, nearly a third of tech employees said they felt they were insufficiently trained in coding, cybersecurity and cloud migration. The gaps in employees’ skills is translating to the businesses they work for, with 26% of tech workers saying their business is missing web development skills and 23% saying their business is missing programming and cyber security skills.

The coding conundrum

Although a lack of cyber security training poses inherent risks to the tech industry, it is not the most absent skill in workers according to employers. That award goes to coding. Almost half (44%) of tech employers said coding faced the biggest skills gap, while 60% of employers said coding will be one of the most important skills for entry-level tech employees.

When employers do find talented tech talent possessing hard to come by tech skills, they retain them by offering flexible working (60%) and in-house training (50%) – thereby reiterating their value. Over one-third of tech employers (37%) are offering more training in coding.

>See also: How to address the skills gap in the tech sector 

Dominic Harvey, director, CWJobs, said: “It’s really encouraging to see the government listened to the concerns of the tech industry and responded accordingly with a budget that makes clear the importance of upskilling the next generation of tech employees.”

“This is not only important for the UK to keep pace globally, but so that businesses and organisations can be adequately prepared in the event of a cyber security attack, for instance. Now that we have a commitment from Government – and a clearer sense of where the skills are needed in areas like coding and cyber security – all parties can make a concerted effort to direct the new resources where they are needed most.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...