Competition for people with digital skills is fierce. A 2023 study by Gallup and AWS found that 72% of UK businesses have digital skills vacancies, and 68% find it hard to hire the digital workers they need. Almost half of those surveyed (45%) put this down to a shortage of qualified candidates.
As a result, the demand for skilled digital workers has never been higher. During the pandemic, the surge in remote working put enormous strain on leaders to accelerate digital transformation initiatives. It also opened the doors to new technology innovations from fast-moving, entrepreneurial businesses. Essentially, the demand for emerging technologies has surpassed the skills needed to deliver them.
In a candidate’s market, how can SMEs stand out and achieve the recruitment ambitions that are essential to their growth?
Smaller companies within the digital sector are an attractive option for graduates. They tend to incorporate the latest technologies into their solutions, encourage innovative thinking and are faster at bringing new solutions to market. So, a recent graduate could quickly make an impact with expertise in leading-edge technologies, and the chance to develop skills in new technologies as they come onboard.
On the other hand, larger established companies may be considered a more secure, stable environment for digital employees, with structured training and career development pathways.
Removing any friction on the candidate experience is critical when competition is tight. Establishing an applicant’s Right to Work (RtW) in the UK has been a statutory requirement for employers for the last decade. There are no exceptions for the size of business, and SMEs have to show diligence in checking candidates’ right to work. There are serious penalties for getting it wrong. For SMEs in particular, the damage from financial sanctions and reputational harm can be devastating.
SMEs recruiting digitally skilled employees benefit greatly from technology that supports digital checks. When it comes to fast-moving SMEs, three key benefits come to the forefront: speed, compliance and brand protection.
As advantages of using a digital tool from an ID Service Provider (IDSP), speed and compliance really speak for themselves. Speed: because you can get the RtW checks done quickly and make an employment offer ahead of the competition. Compliance: because, as I mentioned before, the penalties of hiring someone without the right to work in the UK can be ruinous. The whole idea of brand image for smaller businesses involves something less tangible, but potentially more important. It’s about your company’s personality and ethos, showing your true colours and being the kind of place someone wants to work and especially start a career. While using an IDSP for your digital RtW checks is not going to radically improve your company’s image on its own, it does say a lot about you if you work in the digital sector or are recruiting digitally-savvy people.
My company, TrustID is a government-certified IDSP that provides identity verification and Right to Work checks to over 2,700 organisations in the UK. In our recent survey of 130 HR professionals from businesses of all sizes, the primary recruitment challenge among software companies was the competitive talent market and the risk of losing out to other employers.
Compared to other industries, software and digital companies were more likely to use an IDSP to perform digital Right to Work checks than others. 82% of software companies surveyed said that they used technology to check that candidates have the right to work in the UK. The average across all industries was 60%. Digital businesses are obviously comfortable using the right technology tools, but there are other factors at play.
The candidate experience speaks volumes about your business. A clunky, manual process to onboard candidates hardly presents the kind of slick, tech savvy image that a technology business would want to convey. In a competitive world, something as simple as being able to provide ID documentation over an app and take a selfie could move your business to the top of a candidate’s favoured employer list.
While this may seem like a relatively minor piece of the overall recruitment jigsaw, it’s an important one. Integrating digital RtW technology into the application process enables your HR teams to streamline workflows and improve the candidate and employee experience with bespoke, faster and user-friendly onboarding solutions.
If you’d like to read our full research survey, you can download it here.