The benefits of digital transformation have been brought into sharp focus thanks to the pandemic. Greater consumer demand has accelerated the need and desire to provide digital services in both the public and private sector.
However, it has become increasingly clear that the private sector has been much more successful in attracting top level tech talent and in ensuring that its wider workforce has the basic digital abilities needed for the future.
The digital skills shortage in the UK public sector
A research report from CIF and its Public Sector Specialist Interest Group (SIG) reveals that 40 per cent of public sector organisations do not have the right skills in place to adapt to digital transformation.
This lack of basic and advanced digital skills among the workforce threatens to slow down public sector transformation despite recent advances which have been made due to the necessity caused by the pandemic.
The UK public sector needs to address this widening digital skills gap or face falling behind when it comes to the availability of digital services.
What skills to look for in top tech talent
To make an informed decision on what digital skills the public sector should be aiming to hire for to secure future success it is critical to conduct a skills gap analysis. Once the skills employees already have are identified, it is possible to compare this to the skills needed to succeed.
Hard technical skills that are currently in high demand in the UK public sector include:
- Cybersecurity skills – Tech Nation recorded an increase in demand for cyber skills of 111% across the UK, and more than 400% in Northern Ireland.
- Cloud – 63% of public sector organisations across Europe say a lack of skills and experience is a barrier for their move to cloud.
- Data Analytics – Approximately 1.1 million people with advanced and complex data analytics skills will be needed by 2023
- Software Development – Programming and software development skills comprise 58% of digital skills demand in the UK.
- Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
There is also increased demand for hybrid skillsets – professionals with broader skill sets that incorporate both soft and hard skills. Whilst digital and tech professionals will always require the relevant technical skills, those with equally strong soft skills will be more successful.
Additionally, other professionals will need to develop basic digital skills to remain employable as companies look for those employees who can most effectively bridge the skills gap.
Remote working has also impacted the IT skills in demand. The ability to work effectively out of the office requires a whole new set of skills.
Soft skills to look out for in digital professionals include:
- Ability to work independently
- Strong written and verbal communication skills
How to recruit tech talent to bridge the skills gap
What strategies can you employ to bridge the digital skills gap and build successful IT teams for the future and attract top tech talent to your organisation?
- Re-examine your hiring process
Looking at your hiring process and taking steps to streamline the procedure prevents talent from dropping out or receiving a better offer before completion. This is also a good time to revisit job specification criteria to better reflect the skills you are searching for and to look at ways to develop new talent pools. For example, making the hiring process more inclusive widens the net when it comes to finding new talent.
- Experience vs Education
Candidates with degree-level tech qualifications are in high demand but in short supply. 3 million new jobs needing digital skills will be created by 2025 and there are simply not enough IT graduates to fill these positions. Graduates are likely to be attracted to the private sector but by looking instead for candidates with experience or transferable skill sets the public sector can hire from a wider pool of talent.
- Hire with upskilling in mind
When hiring consider candidate potential. Who has a good set of base skills that can be built on with the correct support and mentorship? Who shows a keen desire to train in the skills you need or has taken steps to upskill themselves already? Combined with a robust onboarding procedure this method allows you to direct the flow of future talent.
- Implement upskilling and reskilling programs
Identify existing employees who could benefit from training to upskill or reskill as well as those employees whose knowledge could be passed on in a soft upskilling or mentorship program.
- Tweak what you offer to be more attractive to talent
The public sector struggles to match the private sector when it comes to salary levels. However, salary isn’t everything. Look at what benefits are increasingly attractive such as flexible hours, remote working or childcare provision and offer these alongside more traditional remuneration.
- Utilise a specialist recruiter like Morgan Law
Specialist recruiters, such as Morgan Law, have access to large networks of skilled professionals as well as in-depth knowledge of the tech and digital industries. Their know-how can help you hire full-time or contract staff to help plug digital skills gaps.
How can Morgan Law help?
Morgan Law specialises in interim, temporary, contract and permanent recruitment across business support, middle and senior management level positions. Whether you’re looking for a talented professional for a key role, or help with bespoke campaign management, we’re the public and not-for-profit sector recruitment specialists.
By taking the time to develop a full understanding of your requirements, helping you understand challenges and advising you on the state of the talent market Morgan Law is well-positioned as a consultative partner that can guide you through planning and implementing a recruitment process that can bridge the digital skills gap.