In January this year the British government published the digital skills report outlining what the UK looks like when it comes to the demand for talent in digital roles, whether or not it exists and what we should be doing to foster more. The summary was very clear; we absolutely have a skills shortage.
The contribution of digital skills to the performance of the economy is substantial. The ‘tech sector’ alone represents 6% of the UK economy with an estimated GVA per person in the region of £91,800, well above the UK average. Given the large number of opportunities that are likely to be available, strong investment in digital skills would likely bring about a very good return on investment to the UK economy. Yet when we read other reports the resounding message is that the UK continues to be one of the leaders globally when it comes to talent in advanced digital skills. When I look at our monthly and quarterly reports for the Salt operation in the Middle East based from Dubai I also see that we consistently relocate talent from the UK to fill roles in the Middle East, usually at a percentage significantly above 50%, but not less.
But just focus on the UK digital talent economy for a second. The superb publication called Tech North has recently shared its data on how the digital landscape looks north of Watford, in places where many southern digital pansies get a nosebleed once they hit the M1. Tech North make some clear statements that there is a distinct lack of funds going towards fuelling the growth of the tech and digital arena. 93% of the equity invested in tech companies missed companies in the north.
72% of large companies and 49% of SMEs are suffering tech skill gaps. There is a clear mismatch in the types of skill offered by the labour market and those demanded. In different ways and to different extents, this trend is likely to be holding back the growth of tech and non-tech companies alike (but further evidence on the types of problems emerging would support the argument).
At Salt each one of our 170 consultants owns what we call their Universe. Each Universe includes the best candidates in that consultants specialism. It contains the leading companies and contacts. We support our clients and regularly facilitate mobility from city to city on a domestic basis, as well as internationally. Increasingly we support our clients and candidates into new roles through more sophisticated recruitment approaches and products. Digital Recruitment Outsourcing is one example. This is next generation specialised RPO where companies entrust Salt with all of their Digital hiring programmes. We give commitment around lower time to hire (TTH), cost per hire (CPH) and achieving the optimum source blend of candidates.
Its true that Manchester seems to be the hub for the north when it comes to digital demand. 1 in 20 of the Norths workforce is employed in the digital economy and the North is home to 283,500 tech workers. Salt continue to develop and refine our contribution to recognising the demand for digital talent in the North of England on a level with how we see the demand globally. The 8 offices that we have will continue to grow and interact more fluidly and confidently to ensure we provide candidates with exciting opportunities in their lives as we as continuing to introduce compelling candidates to our clients.
The Northern Powerhouse is home to 13 percent of the UK’s fast growing tech businesses, but the area received only 7 percent (£775 million) of the total UK equity investment into tech companies between 2011 and 2015. Are the government-backed investment funds not having an impact?