Tech Tonics: How the Sector Can Resolve Its Hiring Issues

The costs, commitment and time involved in taking on more staff mean those who make hiring decisions always have one eye on the future.

But while their immediate focus is usually dominated by workflow, budgets and staffing questions, taking a moment to step back and look beyond the short term can reveal valuable insights that help them make better hires now.

Indeed has a front-row seat on trends in the jobs market; our data gives us an unparalleled snapshot of who is hiring, whom they are looking for, and who the jobseekers are.

The first, second, third and fourth instalments of this blog series explored the jobs that are hardest to recruit for, the trends in demand for languages, the UK’s fastest growing jobs and the cyber industry.

This time we are examining one of the country’s hottest sectors – the tech industry – and looking at where it is currently struggling for personnel, and how it might address these issues.

The UK tech sector is one of Britain’s great modern success stories, with the industry continuing to grow rapidly and attract a steady stream of high-skilled jobseekers from both the EU and beyond.

A surge in the number – and ambition – of tech companies has created a slew of opportunities for jobseekers. But the flipside for tech employers is a steady hotting up of competition for the best recruits.

Many tech roles are so specialised that it can be hard to find people with the right skills to perform them. Our team took a look at where the sector is struggling most to meet its hiring needs, and at which roles are proving the most elusive for employers.

Hard to compute

Our team examined which tech sector roles had the highest proportion of ‘hard to fill’ vacancies – i.e those that remained unfilled for 60 days or more.

Two thirds (65%) of vacancies for senior data modelers remain unfilled after two months, making it the hardest to fill technology job in the UK.

Senior programmers, systems consultants, senior technology consultants and senior back end developers are also highly elusive, with more than 50% of all opportunities posted on Indeed being classed as hard to fill.

Rising demand for staff is a natural byproduct of an expanding sector. As tech companies grow, and new players enter the market, more skilled employees are needed to handle the increased workload.

That so many jobs remain unfilled for at least two months says much about conditions for both jobseekers and recruiters. Talented candidates with in-demand skills currently enjoy great choice and abundant opportunities, while employers frequently have to be patient to find staff with the specialist skills they need.

Cash machines

In the face of intense competition when it comes to attracting skilled workers, employers are having to offer top dollar to lure talent.

The top 10 hardest to fill tech jobs pay an average annual salary of £47,460, far above the average UK salary of £29,600.

Clearly tech workers who have specialist, in-demand skills know their value and feel emboldened to demand a premium for their labour.

This competition in the tech sector should also be seen against the backdrop of the wider jobs market, in which unemployment is at its lowest level since 1974 and more people are in work than ever before.

Such high levels of employment mean the pool of available jobskeeers is shallow, putting the onus on would-be recruiters to prize workers away from their existing employer. Offering an attractive salary is the most obvious way to do this, and it stands to reason that salary inflation should be strongest among roles that are already proving hard to fill.

Tech your time

A long-term concern for the tech sector is that a high incidence of stubbornly ‘hard to fill’ vacancies and the ongoing struggle to find suitable workers may eventually stymie the industry’s growth.

As long as the power rests so squarely with employees and jobseekers, companies are likely to be vulnerable on retention as well as recruitment.

However the balance of power will naturally shift over time. Six of the top ten hardest to fill vacancies identified above have ‘senior’ in their title, indicating they are aimed at candidates with substantial prior experience.

Tech is a particularly attractive sector among younger jobseekers, meaning that many of the current crop of candidates will – at least in experience terms – still be junior. However in another year or two’s time, they will have gained more experience and will be better equipped to apply for ‘senior’ jobs – thus adding to the shallow pool of senior talent.

Meanwhile, the sector’s success and glamour will continue to draw in junior talent, replenishing the ranks of today’s juniors as they are promoted. The net effect could be to shift the tectonics of the hardest to fill vacancies away from the current top 10. In the fast-moving world of tech, the shift could even be to roles which at present don’t even exist.

So perhaps patience – admittedly an unusual trait among the caffeine-fuelled unicorns of the tech sector – is the key; both in terms of the current need to wait several weeks or even months for the right candidate, and in terms of the longer redistribution of the hardest to fill roles. Time will tell.