Author Archives: Ryan Wimalasena

  1. Spark Change 2022

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    Spark Change 2022 is almost here! This year, we’re inviting participants to show off your problem-solving skills and ability to innovate by designing a GreenTech app to tackle some of our most important and current global environmental sustainability challenges. You’ll get to decide which issue you’d like your app to approach from a choice of four Challenges:

     

    • Climate change
    • Clean energy
    • Fast fashion
    • Food waste
    Once you’ve decided on a Challenge, you’ll begin work on the first of two submissions.
    The first will be a brief Powerpoint PDF describing the various features and functions of your app, including a logo and/or app icon.
    Three weeks later, you’ll be asked to submit a short video talking us through your app. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

    First prize is £1,000 and £500 goes to the runner-up!

    Further information can be found here on our handy, dandy Notion page.
    Any questions can be sent to [email protected]
    Feeling motivated? Apply now!
    https://weareacademy.notion.site/Spark-Change-2022-78b2ca7138ff43b3835981043e471011 
  2. How To Build A Positive Team Culture Within The Tech Industry

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    Building a positive team culture has never been more critical. The tech skills shortage means acquiring and retaining the best employees remains a big challenge for most businesses. But if you are able to get your culture right, your business can stand out and attract the best talent.

    The importance of a positive tech culture

    Building a positive tech culture is about much more than just doing the right thing. Of course, it’s better to be around a happy and positive workplace, but a great culture also has a range of business benefits that are crucial if you want to attract and retain employees and drive growth.

    Here are a few of the big advantages of getting your workplace culture right.

    Employee retention

    The UK, like most other developed nations, is struggling to produce enough qualified graduates within its expanding tech industry. The industry is now worth $1 trillion. It’s only the third country, after the US and China, to exceed this milestone. Putting that growth into context, in 2018, the industry was worth less than $500bn. 

    According to a UK Government report, UK tech businesses raised almost £30bn last year. Tech is booming in the country, but a persistent problem threatens the industry’s growth.

    The BSC State of the Nation Report 2022 report highlights this issue further. In Q3 2021, there were about 64,000 tech job vacancies in the UK. This number represents a 191% increase for a similar time period in 2020.

    It’s clear there are too many job postings and too few job applicants. This problem isn’t easy to solve. The causes are a mix of issues, such as Brexit visa issues, increased specialisation, and a rapidly-growing industry. 

    Some commentators suggest that it’s not that the UK isn’t producing enough STEM graduates; it’s not delivering enough of the right graduates. The same BSC State of the Nation Report also suggests about 34,000 tech specialists were looking for work. This figure indicates at least part of the problem is due to a skills incompatibility.

    Whatever the causes, a tech skills shortage exists. Finding staff who can push your business to the next level is hard due to a lack of suitable workers. Additionally, the best employees are being headhunted — including yours.

    Retaining staff remains a challenge. Businesses can only compete so far on salaries before becoming unprofitable. A great employee value proposition (EVP) has become an important tool for attracting top talent, and positive team culture is one of the critical ingredients of a compelling offer.

    Facilitate remote working

    Following on from providing a positive Employee Value Proposition, remote working is symbolic of a more human-centric approach to work post-pandemic. COVID-19 has caused a rapid change in mindset and has made staff rethink their relationship to work. Better benefits, more flexibility, and a better work-life balance are just some of the upsides for employees.

    Remote and hybrid working present challenges for company culture. With staff not sharing the same space, it can be challenging to build a sense of camaraderie. Video conferencing tools and regular check-ins can do some of the work, but a gap still exists.

    A positive work culture can help overcome these challenges. Even while working remotely, people can feel valued, supported, and connected with the right culture. In these more fragmented times, a culture that isolates its employees only amplifies disconnection.

    Productivity

    A positive work culture has many benefits for employees. With a bigger focus on health and wellbeing, employees are less stressed, overworked, and less vulnerable to burnout. Employee burnout is an issue that affects about two in five tech workers, according to a recent Yerbo study across 33 countries.

    Workers in an environment that offers support, stability, and respect, are more loyal and productive. A study from the University of Warwick showed that happy workers are 12% more productive. A toxic environment is a financial liability!

    Diversity & Inclusion

    The last few years have opened people’s eyes to some of the problems in Tech. The media has been awash with stories about misconduct and discrimination at some huge firms. 

    Like many other male-dominated sectors, Tech has had some issues that need to be addressed. Allegations of routine sexual misconduct, sexism, and “tech bro” cultures have blighted the industry. These reports showcase a major roadblock towards creating a more diverse and inclusive culture.

    The fallout from these events is that more businesses are now more conscious of diversity. In particular, there have been efforts to close the gap and build cultures that will attract — rather than repel — women and minorities.  

    How to build a better culture

    OK, so now that we know the reasons why it is important to foster a great company culture, it’s time to figure out how to get there. 

    Building a solid company culture is about a lot of things — both big and small. It involves forging connections that drive team building. It’s about offering a strong sense of stability and respect. In short, it’s about building an environment your employees are proud to call home. 

    While all of that might seem a little vague and nebulous, don’t worry. We’re here to help with some steps that you can take to build a work culture that will keep your employees engaged, valued, heard, and happy. 

    Build an EVP for a post-pandemic world

    An employee value proposition (EVP) is part of your employer brand. Basically, it’s a way to attract and retain employees. As we mentioned earlier, the job market is hugely competitive. So what does this mean for your EVP?

    Gartner released a report last year that looked at EVPs. They concluded that in light of the way the pandemic has changed people’s relationships with work, EVPs must adjust to meet this demand.

    The study suggests three significant changes businesses must consider to create better cultures. They are:

    • Employees should be treated as people, not workers.
    • Employees want better life experiences, not just work experiences.
    • Value comes through feeling, not features.

    Additionally, they suggest that businesses have been overly focused on which benefits they give employees rather than why they provide them.

    Their solution to the issue is the Human Deal, an approach they suggest will improve employee satisfaction by 15%. 

    The Human Deal encompasses five areas:

    • Deeper connections
    • Shared purpose
    • Radical flexibility
    • Holistic wellbeing
    • Personal growth

    Gartner offers some recommendations for each section, with a big focus on forging connections and team building through a series of human-focused interventions. 

    We’ll briefly touch on a few below, but you should definitely read the full report to see how your organisation can implement some of these measures.

    • Deeper connections: A greater focus on workplace inclusion, benefits that help an employee’s family, and a more significant emphasis on trust building by management.
    • Shared purpose: Get buy-in from your entire team on societal issues via peer coaching and alignment with the company mission as a whole.
    • Radical flexibility: Give employees more flexibility on issues like work hours and remote or hybrid work.
    • Holistic wellbeing: Encourage more discussions around mental health and ensure managers know how to support employees around these issues.
    • Personal growth: Create opportunities to grow personal growth and career progression through coaching and mentoring.

    All in all, it’s good recommendations from Gartner. Not all recommendations will work for each business, but moving in a more caring, human-centred direction would be a vast upgrade for some tech businesses.

    Welcome each new hire

    Starting a new position can be full of uncertainty. Employees might not know anyone, so adjusting can take time. One solution to this is to ensure that you welcome each new hire and introduce them to your team.

    Introducing new hires to their workmates can help establish a bond. In large companies with frequent hires, you can do it on a team level. 

    Leaders can build this step into your onboarding process. It doesn’t take much, and you can apply it in whatever way you can. If you think it’s appropriate, you can even ask the new hire to fill out a little profile or their interests. It might spark up a conversation with their new workmates.

    Another popular way to mark a new hire joining is to give them a little gift basket with stuff they might need, like branded cups, tote bags, t-shirts, and an employee handbook.

    This step is all about team building and making connections. It’s essential in an era of remote and hybrid work. Something like a short video call introduction could do the trick—even an announcement on Slack. Just find a way for them to start making connections.

    Schedule team-building

    Team-building is a great way to build meaningful connections. However, despite best intentions, plans can easily get mislaid during a busy working week. As a result, it’s a good idea to schedule team-building days or exercises in the same way as you would a meeting.

    Team-building has many benefits. For starters, it helps employees develop an understanding of each other on a more human level. When you pick the right activities, they can do a lot for trust and camaraderie.

    However, it’s essential to consider your team when booking or designing activities. Hunting each other down with a paint gun in a forest isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time. So try and find activities that everyone can buy into.

    Again, this is something you can practice in a remote environment too. Even something as simple as solving a puzzle during the last 10 minutes of a meeting can stimulate discussion around a shared purpose. 

    Encourage growth and development

    A positive tech culture involves supporting your workers to achieve their best. And one of the best ways to do that is by encouraging growth and development.

    We get it. Work is busy; deadlines, sprints, and problems come up all the time. It’s hard to place a focus on the future when you need to attend to the present.

    However, defining career paths has many benefits. For starters, your employees feel valued because you care about their future. Secondly, it can stop you from losing good staff. 

    Too many talented individuals leave companies because they are offered a great opportunity elsewhere. But if they can progress to the next level at a company, why can’t it be yours? 

    So look at ways that you can keep your workers engaged and fully motivated. You can’t always hand out raises or promotions each year, but you can do stuff like invest in education, or send your team members to courses and conferences where they can improve their personal development.

    Encouraging growth and development, and providing a career pathway, is an excellent way towards retaining staff. Additionally, if your business gets a reputation for helping people learn and progress, it will help you attract the next generation of top talent.

    Offer employee recognition and praise

    One of the best ways to drive connections between employees and management is to ensure you make staff feel valued and seen. Employee recognition is one of the best ways to achieve this.

    However, a 2021 report from Quantum Workplace suggests employee recognition is declining in our post-COVID world. During the pandemic, 81% of employees felt they would be recognised for making a strong workplace contribution. Since then, that number has dropped to 72%.

    There are probably a few things happening here. For starters, the pandemic was such an unusual event that everyone really pulled together. Isolation and being stuck at home were something we were all in together, so it was easier for management to empathise with the effort people were making. 

    However, good work should be praised regardless of whether there is a crisis or not. 

    Recognising your team’s hard work and dedication can increase motivation, morale, and unity. How you award the kinds of behaviour you want to see depends on your business. An email of thanks, a voucher, a day off, or an award are all small gestures that can mean a lot.

    Of course, remember that not every employee wants to be made a fuss of. Some people prefer to get their heads down and don’t want a public gesture; however, they might like something else.

    So, get to know your team. Then you can find the right buttons to press to show them your thanks for all the hard work and loyalty they offer your business. 

    Any recognition plans you implement can be done individually or collectively. Obviously, awarding a team can do a lot for cohesion.

    Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

    Modern consumers want to buy from businesses that share their values. The contemporary worker feels the same way about where they work. We’ve seen this played out across various sectors, like publishing or streaming services, where workers have been vocal about the content their businesses produce.

    Commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion goals are important. Tech is traditionally a male-dominated industry that veers towards a monoculture. But efforts are being made to change that. 

    There are lots of benefits to committing to DEI initiatives. It makes your business look more attractive to women and minority candidates. Similarly, top tech talent wants to work in more inclusive cultures. In fact, a recent Gallup poll suggests that a diverse, inclusive workforce is a key consideration for 42% of workers.

    Employees see their workforce as a microcosm of society. While controlling society’s inequalities is difficult, they are demanding it happens at a business level. 

    You can review several things to ensure that you have more diversity. For starters, you can set targets for things like internships, education support, mentorship, and hiring. Being conscious of potential biases in decisions is a great beginning.

    There have been countless studies over the years that praise diversity for helping businesses become more creative, innovative, and productive. So in some ways, it’s a business imperative too.

    However, perhaps the greatest impact it can make is on employee engagement. A recent study by mthree highlighted the effects that a bad culture has on retention. Shockingly, 71% of people said they felt uncomfortable at work due to their:

    • Ethnicity
    • Socio-economic background
    • Gender 
    • or Neurodiversity

    The result is that, according to the study, half of all young people are either leaving or thinking of leaving the tech industry.

    The report makes a few recommendations that could help achieve a better balance of people. Some of the more interesting are:

    • Businesses should anonymise CVs (only 37% currently do)
    • Implement bias-aware hiring practices (only 9% of survey businesses have currently)
    • Use gender-neutral job posts (54% do currently)
    • Invest in anti-bias training for recruitment managers (46% currently)
    • Recruit from less traditional universities
    • Attend more job fairs

    Simply put, if you want buy-in and engagement from diverse staff, they need to believe you are on their side. Building that trust takes time, but it pays off. 

    An excellent recent paper on the topic by Nazli Mohammed called Trust in the Workplace highlights some of the benefits. It’s definitely worth a read.

    Collaborate Often

    Management understands the importance of collaboration. Before the pandemic, about 44% of people used collaboration tools at work. These days, that number is 80%. 

    However, investment in these tools is just one part of the puzzle. The other part is culture. Unless teams use these tools better, they can’t have the desired effect on team building and connections.

    The best tools open up lines of communication. They make people accessible in ways they weren’t before. Breaking down departmental silos is an excellent way to boost productivity and streamline existing processes or workflows.

    But management needs to be at the forefront of this. They need to promote collaboration by leading by example. There are several ways you can achieve this.

    If businesses want employees to collaborate more, they must set this precident. A workplace needs to be a place where open and honest communication is prioritised. 

    One big part of encouraging collaboration is to allow workers to take risks and experiment. Of course, we’re not advocating gambling away the company’s resources on long shots. However, some of the best work happens when employees aren’t punished or penalised for trying new things.

    Other things to consider are things like intentional spaces. If you have the office space, consider building an area where people can go to trash out ideas together rather than being confined to their desks.

    But intentionality shouldn’t stop there. Leaders should promote their vision of what collaboration looks like. Explain the benefits, set some targets, and encourage cross-functional collaboration.

    Again, a lot of this comes down to communication and trust. Setting up projects that require collaboration and finding ways to reward teamwork can greatly promote a positive culture. 

    Set goals

    Setting goals can have a positive effect on culture. One of the hallmarks of a toxic culture is a lack of clarity around what workers are meant to be doing. Dysfunctional management and poor communication are big contributors to broken cultures, so businesses should find a way to improve these situations.

    You should set goals for:

    • Individuals
    • Teams or departments
    • The entire organisation

    This process can lead to a more inspired and engaged workforce. And, if the goals are ambitious enough, it will force your workers to build the connections that facilitate great team building.

    Goals are instrumental in promoting a growth mindset. They are something that everyone can gather around. Everyone can feel happy and proud of their contribution when they are achieved.

    A big part of setting goals that can help build a positive culture is ensuring everyone has input. Instead of telling people what you want them to achieve, you can come up with shared goals together. This process ensures the goals are meaningful for your team, which boosts engagement.

    Manage growth

    Growth can cause some issues for your company culture. Many tech businesses start with a core group of like-minded people working on what is effectively a passion project. As funding and success happen, it leads to the appointment of a different type of worker.

    One of the perils here is diluting the culture you have built. This problem is something that many organisations have faced on some level.

    On top of this, during times of intense growth, HR’s role can shift more towards talent acquisition rather than a focus on present employees. 

    There are a few different things that businesses can do to protect culture during growth. For starters, it’s important to codify some practices. Smaller teams often organically develop an unwritten agreement around what is or isn’t acceptable. As a business grows and adds new members, this situation becomes harder to maintain.

    Transparency around employee relations is also a huge part of building a positive culture. That can take lots of different forms, from good communication, investing in tools for tracking workers’ issues, or being accountable when you fail to maintain the standards you’ve set out to achieve.

    A great onboarding process is another part of dealing with rapid growth. Devising ways to communicate the culture you want can help new hires get on the same page as current staff. Even simple things like an employee handbook can make a big difference. 

    Finally, how you deal with issues can be just as important as the outcomes or resolutions. Most businesses will experience some level of conflict. However, building processes to resolve these issues that are fair and transparent can mitigate the fallout from disputes. When workers believe they have been treated fairly — and the process was satisfactory — it can reduce the likelihood of problems of resentment and employee attrition.

    Build starts; don’t buy them

    Finding people with the right skills is an ongoing challenge. When you need a software developer or cybersecurity expert, it can take a long time to find one, and because of scarcity, it can cost you a lot of money.

    So what’s the solution here? Should companies keep forking out huge salaries and benefits to stay competitive? Sure, that might work over the short term, but there are questions about the sustainablity of ever increasing salaries.

    Tech salaries are increasing all the time. It’s a simple supply-demand problem. For example, data scientist compensation is up 16% in the last 12 months.

    Despite several attempts and investments, the UK government doesn’t seem to be able to solve the skills gap shortage. Throw visa restrictions on top, and it’s not hard to see why tech businesses are struggling to fill positions.

    One solution is to build from within. Of course, not all businesses have the time, resources, or educational expertise to train workers. However, there are some excellent alternatives that can help you achieve similar results.

    Building a relationship with businesses like Academy can give you access to employees with relevant skills that outperform. We find and develop high-potential individuals and provide them with the training and skills they need to thrive in a tech environment. 

    Academy can provide businesses with a steady stream of the right junior candidates who are ready to hit the ground running. Previous businesses have been pleasantly  surprised with Thanks to our comprehensive program, the vast majority of our Scholars exhibit excellent leadership potential. 

    Don’t just take our word for it: 

    “I was hoping if Martha could get to ‘net zero’ in terms of quality of her output vs. time we put into onboarding her within 3 months. She did it in one month.” 

    • James, co-founder and CTO at Stitch

    By scouring the market for top talent from non-traditional backgrounds, we unearth the hidden gems that aren’t visible to many recruiters. 

    As we said above, we understand that businesses can’t always implement training programs to produce the next generation of talent. While they have the knowledge, they’re not in the education business.

    However, the next best thing is to build a relationship with a business that is actively developing staff to fill in-demand roles. So get in touch today to set up a discussion.

    Over-communicate

    Over-communication is a concept that initially seems undesirable. To some ears, it evokes ideas like info dumping, oversharing, and micromanagement. However, it’s something far different.

    Over-communication is about ensuring that all your employees understand your message. It’s a management style that prioritises sharing information to reinforce important messages, like company values and vision.

    The rise of remote and hybrid work can lead to some communication getting lost. Regular checks in and updates are a vital component of keeping employees in the loop.

    As we mentioned earlier, a lack of clarity is a hallmark of a toxic work environment. It stems from inadequate leadership and leaves workers unsure about what they are doing or what is happening within the organisation.

    On the other hand, overcommunication ensures that key messages are heard. It strives to put everyone on the same page and is especially important during times of upheaval. 

    A positive culture is about respect. It fosters connections and team building by building a sense of stability around information. Employees who know that a business is transparent about what is happening don’t feel lost, neglected, or out of the loop.

    Stability is an integral part of feeling happy. It can encapsulate job security, consistent messaging, or a feeling that processes are predictable. More than anything, it’s a cornerstone of the trust required to build a great team culture.

    Be Patient (Tech is Complex)

    There are so many benefits to a great company culture that, understandably, many leaders will want to rush through the process. However, building a positive culture takes time. 

    As we’ve mentioned, trust is a massive part of team building. And it can’t grow overnight. Leaders need to promote and nurture things like fairness, transparency, inclusion, and respect before these feelings grow into a culture that people want to embrace.

    So, take your time and be intentional about your efforts. Listen to your workforce and find out what a great company culture means to them. Sure, salary and benefits packages are important, but a great mission is a powerful motivator too. Often more so.

    Tech businesses are at the forefront of a society being transformed by digitisation. Modern products and services are changing how we work, live, and communicate. At their best, tech products are changing people’s lives for the better.

    Being involved in important missions like this can be deeply meaningful. Your product and your business’s core values can provide something your team can gather around. It can be a source of profound connections as your team strives towards a goal that actually matters. 

    Get your communication right, include people from different backgrounds, and prioritise a collaborative and supportive workplace that treats employees like humans, not workers, and a positive culture will emerge. 

    Building trust takes time, respect, and stability. But if you do the work, it’s possible. From there, it still needs to be tended carefully, but if it is, it will unlock a world of benefits, from productivity to retention and a whole lot more.

    If you enjoyed this article, you might find value on £100K Salaries Are Coming (There’s a Tech Talent Crisis, and It’s Getting Worse, Not Better)

  3. £100K Salaries Are Coming (There’s a Tech Talent Crisis, and It’s Getting Worse, Not Better)

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    For nearly two decades now, tech salaries in the Bay Area within the United States have soared, puffed up by an abundance of Venture Capital as well as competition from established tech juggernauts such as Google, Meta, and Amazon to name a few. 

    Within this huge numbers of staff were found to resign from their positions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is known as the great resignation, and in 2021, businesses in the United Kingdom were hit by a massive staff shortage as an alarmingly high number of employers resigned voluntarily. According to a Bloomberg News Chartered Management Institute report, the voluntary resignations between April and December 2021 were much higher than during the same time in 2019.

    One surprising thing was that was that Managers at larger organisations saw more voluntary departments in the workforce as compared to smaller companies. Meanwhile, 60% of managers in general reported difficulty hiring employees for the same job roles they could quickly fill before Covid-19.

    Since the pandemic, many organisations have changed their workplace policies to cater towards retaining their workforce. For instance, 89% of companies have now implemented flexible working arrangements, in order to improve employee satisfaction. This is a notable increase from 58% before 2020.

    However, companies still face challenges in regards to recruiting employees. For example, 90% of the surveyed managers report having vacancies at their workplace, while 55% said recruiting new staff is much more complicated and difficult now.

    While the Great Resignation is in full flow, there have also been more instances of people shifting from full-time work to part-time work. For example, 20% of the managers reported seeing an increase in employees moving to part-time work since the pandemic began.

    The number of available job vacancies in the UK surpassed a million for the first time in July 2021. In addition, a Microsoft report released during the same time showed that 41% of employees plan to leave their current employers. Despite the recent tech layoffs and tech financing crunch, it seems likely that back-to-business will involve the same challenges.

    The question is why are these employees planning on moving? Well, 46% of these employees plan to move because they are able to work remotely. At Academy we have found that people find remote work more attractive. This is reinforced by the findings that indicate Gen Z, people with a graduate degree, as well as women within tech tend to apply for remote jobs more than those which are on site as Illustrated in Figure 2. 

    Figure 1: 41% of employees considering leaving their current employer (Source: Microsoft)

    Figure 2: What demographics are likely to seek remote working opportunities (Source: Microsoft)

    Continuing Into 2022

    While the great resignation may have started as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has continued into 2022 as more people seek further opportunities and training outside of their current roles.

    A recent survey commissioned by HRD showed that 29% of employees are actively looking for a new job or are open to new job offers. In addition, the number of people who are passively looking for a new job has also increased in the past year.

    According to this survey of 1,000 workers in the UK, the following industries are more likely to be affected by this resignation spree:

    • Legal: 44%
    • IT & Telecoms: 42%
    • Sales, Marketing, & Media: 40%

    Companies that offer remote or hybrid working models have been found to be less likely to face resignations as these types of workplaces are more attractive to employees. 28% of the workers admit they stay in their current work as a result of flexible working schedules and policies. Meanwhile, 16% of employees report wanting to leave their current job because their workplace requires them to be in the office for a job that can be done remotely.

    Besides the lack of hybrid and remote working opportunities, low salaries are also causing employees to resign. 23% of workers report looking for positions in other companies because their current workplace does not offer an attractive salary, timely pay raises, or bonuses.

    Therefore, it seems like employers can retain their staff by offering more flexible work arrangements such as hybrid working as well as increasing salaries. Businesses can avoid their best employees from resigning in the first place, provided the correct policies such as flexible working are in place.

    Tech Talent Crisis

    Now that we’ve discussed the Great Resignation, let’s look at the elephant in the room, shall we? Unfortunately, the tech talent crisis is real, and it’s only getting worse.

    The problem is twofold. Firstly, there are not enough people with the necessary skills to fill the ever-growing number of positions in the tech industry. Secondly, even those with the right skills are often snapped up by the big tech giants, leaving smaller companies struggling to find skilled digitally native talent.

    The result is that many businesses are being forced to either lower their standards or do without specific key roles altogether. And it’s not just the businesses that are suffering – the people who can’t find work in the tech industry are missing out on a huge opportunity.

    According to Eurostat’s 2020 report as shown in Figure 3, there’s a concerning percentage of the population aged 25 to 64 who have little to no digital skills. In today’s tech-driven world, that’s a severe problem. We recently wrote about how Academy is helping tackle this issue here.

    Percentage of Population 25-64 year olds with low or no Digital Skills.

    Figure 3: Percentage of people who have low to no digital skills within Europe: Source

    Moreover, a McKinsey report reinforces the findings from Eurostat by showcasing that 8.6 million people lack the necessary skills in three categories across the EU-28 public sector. Of those, 1.7 million people lack tech skills.

     

    Figure 4: The Skill Shortage: Source

    While most positions in the UK suffer from a shortage of digital skills, some jobs are more affected than others. For instance, managerial positions require the ability to navigate a more complex digital landscapes requiring native digital literacy than intermediate workers and junior managers.

    Therefore, a shortage of digital skills is more problematic in the top tiers, where organisations require a strategic and comprehensive understanding of how technology can be integrated into the business.

    Figure 5: Positions in the UK, where digital skills shortages are most apparent: Source

    Likewise, a McKinsey Global Survey report shows that nearly 87% of the organisations in the world are currently experiencing a skills gap. Meanwhile, the rest expect to see a skills gap in the future.

    43%

    Figure 6: Respondents expected to see skill gaps within the market and technology trends: Source

    This ultimately has wide-reaching implications because it limits the ability of businesses to digitalise and, therefore, hinders them towards becoming more productive and efficient. As a result, UK businesses are losing out on billions of pounds every year as a result of this skills gap.

    What Concerns Employers

    Organisations are concerned about the widening skills gap because of the negative impact on productivity, growth, and profitability. A skills shortage can lead to organisations struggling to find the right people with the right skills to fill critical roles, which can, in turn, lead to reduced output and slower growth. In a globalised economy, where competition is fierce, this can be devastating for businesses.

    The growing skills gap is also a significant concern for employers because it can lead to higher wage costs as employers compete for a limited pool of skilled workers. As a result, it can put businesses at a competitive disadvantage and make it difficult to attract and retain the best talent moving forward.

    CompTIA research study in Figure 7 below shows that the most concerning impact of the skills gap on businesses is lower staff productivity. It is followed by lower levels of customer engagement, lower profitability, and an inability to keep up with the competition.

    Ways Skill Gaps Negatively Impact Business

    Figure 7: How does the skills gap negatively impact business performance: Source

    Another reason companies are concerned about the ever-increasing skills gap is because it is most prevalent in areas that are critical to their business. For example, the skills gap in IT mainly concerns businesses because of the reliance on technology in today’s world.

    The CompTIA study further shows that the skills gap is the highest in automation, AI, and IoT adoption. Meanwhile, cloud infrastructure, digital business transformation, cybersecurity, and app development are right behind as shown in Figure 8.

    Figure 8:  Top IT Skill Gap Areas: Source

    Since these aspects are integral to businesses, the skills gap in these areas can significantly impact businesses. It can make it difficult for them to stay ahead of the competition and meet the demands of their customers.

    On top of that, the skills demand has also changed significantly since 2018. The Future of Jobs Survey 2018 by the World Economic Forum revealed the differences between in-demand skills in 2018 and 2022. As evident, technology design and programming is a critical skill set required for jobs in the future.

    Figure 9: The future of job skills findings: Source

    Tackling the Talent Crisis?

    So what can be done about this talent crisis? Well, firstly, we need to address the skills gap. Companies need to ensure that more people are being trained in the necessary skills, and they need to do it quickly. Academy makes it easy to find junior skilled talent within the tech sector, but considering the current employment landscape and increasing difficulty of hiring, companies are looking for even more ways to get more people trained in the specific skills they need.

    Reskilling the Workforce

    Reskilling means training employees in new or different skills. It can be done through several methods, such as:

    • On-the-job Training: Employees receive training from their employers while they are working. It can take the form of shadowing, mentorship programs, and attending workshops and conferences related to the desired skill set.
    • Online Courses and MOOCs: Employees can take advantage of the vast array of online courses and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) available today. These are often very affordable or even free, and they provide employees with a flexible way to learn new skills on their own time.
    • Bootcamps: Bootcamps are intensive, short-term training programs that teach participants the skills they need for a specific job. They usually last between 4 and 12 weeks, and some programs even guarantee job placement after graduation.
    • Formal Education: Some employees may need to return to school to get the necessary education for the desired skill set. It could mean going back to get a degree or certification or taking a few courses at a local community college.

    The best way to close the skills gap is through a combination of these methods. Different employees will learn in different ways, so it’s important to offer various options.

    A McKinsey report found that 30.5 million UK workers forming 94% of the workforce need to be reskilled to perform their jobs in 2030. Moreover, McKinsey found that 80% of hiring managers in the UK expect to hire employees in automation and tech roles, such as cloud computing, cyber security, AI, robotics, and digital customer experience.

    In fact, 75% of employers can benefit from reskilling their workforce.

    Figure 10: Upskill, Retain or both? :Source

    If employers don’t step in with reskilling initiatives, two-thirds of the UK’s workforce will be underskilled by 2030. This will ultimately have a negative impact on the British economy, if swift action isn’t acted on by employers and the government.  Of these as shown in Figure 11, 21.2 million employees will lack basic digital skills to perform their jobs by 2030.

    Figure 11: Where are UK workers under-skilled: Source

    An example of a company that is taking initiative towards reskilling comes from the tech giant, Google. The Career Forward program at Google is aimed at helping veterans get a Google Career Certificate for user experience design, project management, data analytics, and IT support. Many companies can learn from this initiative towards teaching basic digital skills within their own workforce.

    Why £100K Salaries are inevitably on their way

    The Great Resignation has been rampant across the UK, affecting all industries from retail to banking. The reason for all of this is simple: people are finding out that their salaries are worth a lot less than they thought.

    More importantly, the pandemic has led to an awakening of sorts, where people are realising that their time is worth more than their salary. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that many are quitting their jobs to search for greener pastures.

    So, what does this all mean for the future of work? Well, it’s safe to say that salaries will have to increase to keep up with the demand. This is especially true for industries that are struggling to retain employees.

    To understand how much tech talent can expect salaries to increase, it’s essential to compare current data with expected raises. According to Hired, the average salaries for software engineers in the UK are shown in Figure 12. As developers advance through their careers, they can expect to earn more.

    Apart from experience, the salary increment also depends on the skills, company, and location.

    For instance, the most in-demand skills amongst software engineers are Java, Python, and JavaScript. These skills can help developers earn more than their counterparts who do not have these skills.

    The company size is another crucial factor that determines the salary of a software engineer. Generally, big tech companies offer higher salaries than small and medium-sized companies.

    Location is also an important consideration when it comes to determining the salary of a software engineer. For example, engineers in London can expect to earn more than those based in other parts of the UK.

    Figure 12: Years of experience to salary ratio: Source

    The same Hired report also showed that some jobs are more likely to see a salary increase than others. These include data scientists, security engineers, and Python engineers among others as shown in Figure 13 below.

    Figure 13: Job Role’s expected to see a salary increase: Source

    By companies offering high salaries, companies are more likely to attract top talent. It will also help them retain existing employees who may be considering leaving for higher compensations elsewhere.

    recent Sifted survey showed that many startups have started to offer higher salaries in the past year to keep up with their competitors. Compared to other professionals, data scientists have seen the highest salary hike of £53.5k to £62k per annum.

    Figure 14: Sifted survey showcasing the biggest wage hike: Source

    Meanwhile, senior data scientists with additional skills can earn up to £80.5k per year shown in Figure 14 of having an 11% salary increase over the last 12 months. Salaries for such roles are higher because of the increased demand for data analysts and scientists who can identify business opportunities and drive growth.

    Although the salaries for data scientists increased the most, the hardest-to-fill vacancy, as per the survey, is engineering roles. So to attract talent, companies increased the salaries of senior engineers up to £90k.

    As businesses change and adapt, companies need to be proactive to stay ahead of the curve. It means reskilling existing employees and offering high salaries to attract new talent.

    Hard to Fill Job Vacancies

    Employers struggle immensely when it comes to filling job vacancies. Unfortunately, the pandemic has only made things worse, with many employers struggling to find staff willing to work remotely. In fact, many employers say that they have struggled to fill vacancies because candidates are unwilling to work on-site and prefer remote positions.

    The CIPD Labour Market Survey showed that nearly 46% of employers have hard-to-fill vacancies. In addition, 45% of employers in the private sector, 41% in the voluntary sector, and 53% in the public sector struggle to fill specific vacancies in their workplace.

    Figure 15: Employers with hard to fill vacancies in %: Source

    Moreover, the survey also found that hard-to-fill vacancies are more prevalent in healthcare, public administration, construction, information and communication, support service activities, and business services.

    Since healthcare tops the chart, it’s understandable why many companies are offering ‘’welcome bonuses’’ to employees. For instance, HC One, a care home operator, offers £10,000 as a welcome bonus to night nurses.

    Meanwhile, Elysium Healthcare offers £5,000 to registered nurses while Priory Group gives the same amount as a welcome bonus to mental health nurses.

    However, the trend isn’t limited to healthcare only. While Arla, the dairy group, started offering a bonus of £2,000 to employees, Tesco followed suit, offering a signing-on fee of £1,000 for HGV drivers.

    Figure 16: Employers with hard to fill vacancies by industry (%): Source

    However, this isn’t just a momentary problem. 64% of employers anticipate they’ll struggle to fill vacancies in the next six months, while 33% expect recruiting to be a significant problem moving forward.

    Figure 17: Over the next six months, does your organisation anticipate problems filling vacancies (%): Source

    An Expected Wage Raise

    It is clear employers are experiencing difficulties in hiring, and continue to offer more remuneration in order to attract and retain the key skilled workers they require. This is already happening in some industries as employers are starting to offer £100,000 salaries for certain positions.

    For example, it’s not uncommon for senior executives to earn six-figure salaries in the banking sector. In fact, many banks have been offering £100,000 salaries to lure in workers from other organisations.

    These figures don’t even include bonuses, which can often double or triple the salary amount.

    As the demand for specific skill sets increases, it’s only natural that the salaries will follow suit. This is especially true in industries where there is a lot of competition for workers.

    The same survey mentioned earlier showed that raising wages is the employers’ first action plan against recruitment difficulties.

    Figure 18: Employer actions to alleviate hard to fill vacancies, past response and future plans (%): Source

    48% of employers have already raised wages for specific vacancies, while 37% plan to do so in the future. Besides raising wages, employers also plan to do the following to attract and retain employees:

    Figure 19: Employer responses to retention difficulties, past response and future plans (%): Source

    • Flexible Working Policies: Employers are offering more flexible working policies to employees to attract and retain them. Most employers already offer flexible working policies, such as working from home and part-time hours.
    • Upskilling Existing Staff: Since hiring new talent can be difficult, many employers instead focus on upskilling their existing staff. This way, they can retain their employees and have a pool of qualified talent for the vacancies they need to fill.
    • Increased Training: Besides upskilling existing staff, employers also offer more training opportunities to employees. It is especially true for certain industries, such as healthcare and construction, where there is a need for more qualified workers.
    • Improved Benefits Packages: Employers also offer improved benefits packages to their employees. They include things like health insurance, childcare vouchers, and pension plans.

    Better Employee Benefits

    Along with offering higher wages, companies also provide better employee benefits to improve retention rates. These benefits can include anything from health insurance and paid time off to on-site child care and free lunches.

    Employee retention is a crucial concern for businesses. The cost of losing and replacing an employee can be very high, and it can have a negative impact on morale and productivity.

    Employers that offer such benefits don’t only see high retention rates but also notice better productivity and engagement from their employees. Moreover, it improves the employees’ physical and mental health, which is imperative for any business.

    The Gartner 2020 ReimagineHR Employee Survey showed that employers that improve their employees’ life experience see a 20% betterment in the employees’ physical and mental health. Plus, such organisations have 21% more high performers than their counterparts that don’t offer the same support to the workforce.

    Figure 20: Employers that support employees with their life experiences: Source 

    Bridge the Skills Gap with Academy

    Founded by The Hut Group alumni Ash Ramrachia, Academy brings the experience of top hiring execs and teaching experts from across the world to offer a truly unique learning experience for candidates, with employment skills front and centre.

    Unlike bootcamps, our Scholars are hand-picked to ensure both raw aptitude and emotional intelligence.

    We have strict criteria for our scholars and do the heavy-lifting of selection for you, as well as offering companies the opportunity to continue that mentorship and training through a 24-month Accelerate programme.

    It ensures that not only are our Scholars able to hit the ground running, but the experience is as hands-off as possible for your software engineering team. We do this through an intensive four month tech training programme, supporting our Scholars financially throughout to ensure that we really are putting our money where our mouth is.

    “The best talent we could have had in the role… I didn’t think we could get this from a junior employee.” – Millie Group CEO and Co-Founder, Jenna J. Ahn

    Get in touch today to find out how we can help you locate the best junior tech talent for your workforce at: https://academy.tech/contact-us/

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