55% of businesses are seeing IT skills improving

Getting creative with recruitment is what Mike Brooman, director at Vanti and CompTIA member, believes will help to close the skills gap in IT…

A recent report by CompTIA found that the UK IT skills gap is slowly improving. Some 55 per cent of businesses surveyed said they are where they want to be, or are seeing IT skills improving in their business, compared with 48 per cent in the same study two years earlier.

However, with almost half of UK IT companies still not happy with their ability to recruit the right staff, and 44 per cent saying the skills gap is having an effect on staff productivity, the issue could still severely hamper the UK channel’s potential for growth.

All too often the finger is pointed at academia for not making their courses industry-relevant or producing candidates with the right skills to step into jobs in the channel. However, I often hear from leaders in higher education who are crying out to make their courses more relevant. Academic institutions are judged on the employability of their candidates, so of course it is in their interest to ensure their graduates are best prepared for the world of work. But they can’t do this in isolation.

The real way to improve the pipeline of talent to the UK channel is to implement proper collaboration with academia to create courses that are applicable to industry requirements and can evolve at the same pace as technological advancement.

Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen overnight. In the meantime, the channel can stop lamenting that academic courses aren’t up to scratch whilst then advertising jobs requiring candidates to have degrees. At Vanti we were really struggling to attract the right talent, and often finding ourselves in competition with the big vendors for the best graduates. So, we decided to change our approach to recruitment, by developing our own talent rather than acquiring it. We think that this is the only true route to sustainable growth. So, we began to focus on personality and attitude a lot more. Technical skill is important, but being passionate, engaged and open to learning is much more important.

Once we find the right people, we then use certifications and in-house training to add the technical skills we require. We are also looking at alternative recruitment avenues like degree apprenticeships, so both candidate and organisation get the best of both worlds.

Of course, nurturing your own talent means you have to take a longer-term view, but we’re already seeing the change starting to pay off. Staff retention has really improved. This focus on the importance of company culture is one I’m looking forward to exploring further at CompTIA’s next UK Channel Community Meeting.

Mike Brooman is the director at IT and audio-visual consultancy Vanti, which is member of CompTIA.


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