Skills gap will remain a key issue in 2017

Over half of UK IT companies anticipate that hiring new recruits will be more challenging in the coming year, according to a new report.

According to the findings of the latest IT Industry Outlook report from CompTIA, the world’s largest IT industry association, 47 per cent of IT companies believe that the skills gap will remain a key issue going forward, widening to 56 per cent of UK companies which are having the most difficulty in finding workers with expertise in emerging fields.

There are multiple factors that have been identified for this difficulty in hiring. 44 per cent of UK companies are finding it difficult to hire because of competition for talent with other firms, suggesting that there is not enough to go around; while 35 per cent of UK companies say that wage expectations are a reason for hiring challenges.

Outside of the UK, the statistic of companies anticipating hiring difficulties in 2017 drops to 47 per cent. Within that, 17 per cent believe hiring will be significantly more challenging in 2017, while 30 per cent expect it will be moderately more challenging.

In spite of the anticipated difficulties in recruitment, IT companies have a record level of confidence in the industry and a forecasted growth of 4.1 per cent. CompTIA senior vice president Tim Herbert identifies that previously emerging technologies will cement their places in terms of financial viability going forward: "With the groundwork of cloud, mobility, data and connectivity laid, the year ahead will see evolutionary advances on many fronts.

“Digital business transformation remains a driving force for small and large enterprises alike,” Herbert explained. “Organisations will have the opportunity to explore advances in virtual reality, artificial intelligence, advanced analytics, the Internet of things, and inevitably, a few unexpected breakthroughs. Those playing catch-up will face growing and potentially new forms of competitive pressures.”

The report identifies 12 trends – in technology, workforce and the IT channel – that are likely to impact the industry in 2017. These include the aforementioned cloud technology, along with the growth of IoT, and the fact that many companies are still unprepared for cyberattacks. 

One of the biggest points of concern within these 12 trends is the necessity for new talent, with an estimated 40 per cent of the channel expecting to retire over the next decade. The report questions where the new talent is coming from, and that the previously mentioned hiring difficulties exemplify this. 

CompTIA’s IT Industry Outlook 2017 is based on an online survey of 530 industry executives in the United States (310), United Kingdom (122) and Canada (98). The survey was conducted in December 2016 and January 2017. The complete report is available for free at CompTIA Insight & Tools.

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