Mind the gap
The Covid pandemic and subsequent lockdowns accelerated digital transformation across industries, forever changing the way we live and work. In particular, it has transformed the expectations and demands of a newly agile workforce, who require the flexibility to seamlessly operate in the office, at home, and on the move. With anywhere, anytime access now a must-have for businesses, it’s an exciting time for the IT industry but one in which demand is far outstripping supply.
Three years into the ‘new normal’ of work, digital innovation is developing at a much faster pace than the skills needed to apply this technology. This gap is hurting businesses in several ways. As technology trends move and evolve, organisations that do not have the talent in place to quickly and adapt to these changes risk falling behind in our new digital landscape. Furthermore, the IT skills gap is fuelling a vicious circle by hindering an organisation’s ability to develop innovative new products or services, as there are fewer people to do the jobs required to remain competitive.
For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the digital skills gap poses particular challenges to stretched IT teams. According to Enterprise Research Centre’s ‘State of Small Business Britain’ report, almost a fifth (17%) of SMEs lack basic digital skills, while over one in five lack the advanced digital skills they need to operate. This is placing both IT departments and the wider organisation under increased strain, potentially leading to sought-after talent being poached by larger competitors with deeper pockets. Indeed, the shrinking talent pool has already led to wage inflation, with average earnings in the IT sector up by 8.6% year-on-year. At a time when budgets are tight due to ongoing economic pressures, this causes a financial strain that some businesses may not be able to sustain.
The digital skills gap also spells bad news for organisations’ cybersecurity efforts. With remote and hybrid workers expanding an already broad attack surface, IT departments are having to continuously update their knowledge and skills to keep up with evolving security risks. However, a significant lack of cybersecurity talent within in-house teams has prevented many businesses from staying ahead of new and emerging threats such as phishing attacks, which have increased by 61% year-on-year. This signals a clear need for organisations to tap into a broader and deeper talent pool, with the cybersecurity expertise required to secure the hybrid workplace.