How to beat the skills shortage in IT: Stop trying to buy the market and retrain your current talent

Even as they struggle to find the skilled workers they require, many UK IT and tech organisations are still focused on a hiring spree. However, while digital talent remains in high demand and short supply, businesses who reskill their current workforce are more likely to succeed.

The UK’s talent shortage has existed for many years, but at the start of the pandemic the problem went into overdrive. Now, as the world of work is continuing to evolve, and the employer/employee dynamic is changing, many workers have the power to pick and choose the jobs they want. This is making it even more difficult for organisations to attract the skills they need.

Unfortunately, many UK IT and tech (IT&T) businesses seem oblivious to this truth. Even as 77% of surveyed IT&T organisations say they are finding it tough to hire the talent they need, 46% of these same businesses are still expecting to hire new workers in early 2024. Something has to give, and a recruitment-centric focus is it. Relying on a hiring strategy alone to grow your IT&T workforce is simply unsustainable for a host of different reasons:

The truth is the talent shortage in IT&T is not ending anytime soon and businesses that rely on a recruitment strategy alone seem set for disappointment. Finding an alternative solution to these problems is therefore critical. Fortunately there’s one in easy reach: The fastest and most productive answer to their hiring woes is for IT&T businesses to boost the skills and capabilities of their current employees.

Competition for IT&T talent is everywhere:

The UK’s non-tech organisations hired more tech workers in the past five years than UK-based tech giants such as Google, Apple and Facebook combined.

Source: Bain & Co.

Giving employees the opportunities to grow

Reskilling an existing workforce may not be a new idea, but when the labour market is tight, it can be the most effective way to grow your workforce. Research reveals that reskilling is successful in 75% of all cases and on average, reskilled workers are 12% more productive than they were before retraining. Additionally, enhancing the skill sets of your current workers can deliver other powerful benefits:

  • Enlarging your talent pool
  • Strengthening your employee retention
  • Retaining worker knowledge and experience and protecting valuable IP
  • Enhancing your Employer Value Proposition (EVP)
  • Supporting the ‘S’ in your organisation’s ESG strategy.

No forward-looking business can afford to ignore these worthwhile goals, but it takes more than generic training videos and manuals to achieve them. Effective reskilling is reliant on devising outcome-based solutions that drive a training programme towards a purposeful goal, instead of a loose idea of improvement. Strategic planning is the key.

How to achieve a successful IT&T reskilling programme in seven important steps:

  1. Conduct a skills and capability audit to determine the skills your business already has.
  2. Match your organisational plan to a workforce skills plan. What skills are you missing now, and what skills will you need to deliver the achievements you are aiming for in 5, 10 or 20 years?
  3. Is it better to build than buy? Building allows you to create the skills you specifically need in the quantity you need within your strategic timescale.
  4. Motivate your trainees: Training programmes can fail because the employees become disaffected and drop out of the course. Provide incentives that reward employees if they pass the training.
  5. Make the most of your managers: Managers are the talent scouts within your organisation. They are in the best position to identify and help reskill potential talent.
  6. Select your training solution to deliver an experience that produces the best outcome to support your strategic goals.
  7. Measure, manage, optimise, scale: Successful training programmes are always a work in progress, with room for continuous improvement. Never let your reskilling programmes go stale.

Learn more about the seven steps to successful workforce reskilling here.

Reskilling your workforce – a task best shared

Online, offline, adding value, building teams, taking business leaders forward to better support their companies – different reskilling programmes and approaches can deliver more for both the employer and employee – a real win/win situation that can impact every area of your business and support your bottom line. Unfortunately, many IT&T organisations may lack the necessary labour market intelligence and depth of resources to successfully deliver on these ambitions. For them, employing the services of an outside retraining and skills enhancement service that can analyse the organisation’s talent needs, assess their workforce capabilities and then deliver a programme to build on those foundations may be a better way to go.

The Talent Solutions approach – a results driven philosophy

With the current skills shortage in IT&T expected to continue to at least 2026, Talent Solutions’ deep understanding of the global talent market is helping technology organisations overcome their most pressing workforce challenges. Our Total Talent Management solutions shift the goal from simple attraction to creating a unified talent ecosystem that helps balance your recruitment portfolio with a high-value, high-return investment in reskilling, re-engaging, re-imagining and retaining your best people and giving them space to thrive.

Learn more about the Talent Solutions approach to workforce reskilling. Achieve a better outcome at every stage; Recruit, Reskill, Retain.

Contact Talent Solutions now.

Reskilling programmes in action:

Discover how Capgemini, Babcock Engineering and QinetiQ brought new skills and energy to their workforce with unique Talent Solutions reskilling initiatives.