If there’s one thing holding SMEs back in this post-recession era, it’s undoubtedly the skills shortage. While firms have their eyes set firmly on growth, their travails in finding top talent are proving something of a hindrance. And nowhere are skills being sought more than in Britain’s burgeoning technology sector.
According to research from Randstad Technologies, part of recruitment specialist Randstad, technology professionals are beginning to realise just how valuable they are to employers. The Randstad Award, an independent survey of 10,728 British workers on their attitude to changing jobs, revealed that salary has steadily grown as a priority since the recession among people seeking their first technology job. While in 2012 only 18% of tech workers said compensation was the main factor driving them to work for a specific company, this figure stood at 22% in both 2014 and 2015.
This has coincided with a rapid expansion in the size of the average tech workforce; 71,000 more employees were working in tech specialist roles in 2014 compared to 2013. In total, there were 1,278,000 tech workers in the UK in 2014, with 49% of those employed in the technology sector and the other 51% employed in technology roles across other industries.
“The new generation entering the workforce recognise[s] that the growing size of the sector, combined with the lack of tech talent, is a perfect storm for job hunters,” said Ruth Jacobs, managing director of Randstad Technologies. “Now, more than ever, it is worth workers doing their homework to find out their current market value before being bold and asking for more money – or switching companies – to make sure they are being paid their fair due.”
When Randstad broke down the results of its survey by age, it discovered that the younger generation of technology workers are more astute when it comes to recognising their market value and actively negotiating on pay. It revealed that 31% of 18-24 year olds who had recently changed jobs cited compensation being too low as a reason for seeking a new employer; this compared to 29% of all respondents.
“Younger workers are often in the best position to capitalise on the hot jobs market, as they usually have fewer financial and familial commitments, making it easier for them to take up new opportunities and move jobs,” added Jacobs. “However, this freedom to chop and change won’t necessarily help them gain new skills. Alongside their salary negotiations, [they] should push to go on training programmes and work across different departments to build their breadth of experience.”
It looks like tech companies are going to have to broaden their recruitment budgets to stand any hope of seeing growth.