Do we have a skills shortage?
There’s no arguing the point: There simply aren’t enough people in the UK with the skills to deliver the technology fast enough.
Mark Channon, Managing Director of Bloc Recruitment, says, "The need to identify, engage and entice top digital talent is becoming ever more challenging in today's market. According to the recent 'Mayoral Tech Manifesto', the UK's digital economy is the largest and fastest-growing in the G20 and already employs more than 1.4 million people. But this could be seriously stymied by the fact, according to the manifesto, that nine out of 10 of London's new digital businesses are being held back by skills shortages. Indeed, a separate survey conducted by techUK found that 93% of tech firms felt a skills gap was having a negative impact on their business."
But is it a skills shortage?
A skills shortage would imply, as a country, we don’t have the skills to create apps, code web services or build hardware.
And that’s not true. The UK has an abundance of talented people. It's just these people are outside the scope of traditional recruitment methods.
In reality, what the UK has is a resource shortage - there aren’t enough people available at the time they are needed.
But is that partly the fault of how businesses think about hiring?
The concept of a full time employee assumes there is a one-to-one relationship between the person who does the work and the business that has the work to do.
So, what happens if we change that to a one-to-many relationship?
When the person who does the work is available to more than one business at the time they need them, the 'skills' in demand become less scarce.
Businesses in the UK just need to think about resourcing technology projects in a slightly different way.
Unlocking a hidden workforce
You can see by switching to a one-to-many relationship between worker and hirer, there is a potential to unlock a huge hidden workforce of talent.
Independent workers and micro-businesses
According to IPSE, the UK’s membership body supporting contractors, independent professionals and freelancers, there are at least 1.9m freelancers and micro-businesses in the UK.
10% of the UK’s freelancers are specialist in IT and communications. That’s a huge number of skilled people who can help fill the technology gap.
2nd job professionals
Full time employees who freelance in their spare time are another hidden workforce. Stories of "Exec by day, developer by night" are becoming more and more common. IPSE data shows there were at least 255,000 people in the UK that freelanced as a 2nd job during 2015.
Again, with a shift of mindset, businesses can access a highly skilled, extremely experienced workforce by offering their tech projects to people who work from another location or at slightly irregular hours.