Two thirds of North West tech businesses report skills shortage

Simon Austin's picture

Manchester has been placed second in the list of the top 10 cities in the UK for digital technology - but 65% of tech leaders in the overall region are reporting a skills shortage.

Nationally, the tech industry is experiencing its biggest skills shortages in more than a decade, with almost two thirds of Chief Information Officers (64%) reporting a shortfall of talent.

The Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey, the largest IT leadership survey in the world, reveals that almost two thirds of tech leaders in London (63%) are reporting skills shortages, with the figure being 65% of the North West and 63% in the North East.

The North West (49%) topped the league table for its lack of big data/ analytics specialists. Across the UK, Harvey Nash estimates that a further 16,000 big data/analytics specialists are required to fill this growing skills gap.

The top skills shortages in the North West and North East in 2019 were:

  • Big data/analytics - 49% in the North West and 38% in North East.
  • Developers - 37% in the North West.
  • Technical architecture/ enterprise architecture/ IT strategy - 32% in the North East.
  • AI/ cyber security - 32% in the North West.
  • Automation robotics/ cyber security - 30% in the North East.

Albert Ellis, CEO of Harvey Nash, said: “With technology developing at such a pace, supply just can’t keep up – with the most acute shortages at the top end, in advanced fields such as big data/analytics, cyber security, and AI.

Skills shortage

"It is particularly worrying that Northern tech hubs like Manchester and Leeds have experienced greater rises in skills shortages than London, as these cities are often competing for talent that’s lured to the capital.

“Across the UK, the sector struggling most is transport/logistics where 76% of tech leaders said they are facing a critical skills shortage that is preventing their organisation from keeping up with the pace of change. The top band of companies, those with IT budgets of more than $250m, are also badly hit, with 74% reporting a critical shortage.

“On a positive front, it is encouraging to see how the digital economy is developing outside London. But at the same time factors that we may have thought unique to London – overheating skills shortages – are also spreading.

"At some point all of the UK economy will be a digital economy and the government will need to find ways of spreading the value generated evenly. Across the UK, businesses face a challenge in turning these tech skills shortages around.

“Large corporates in particular need to find solutions fast. We are seeing quite a profound generational shift in which Millennials are most interested in innovative projects and learning new skills, more so than in salary and job security.

“They are looking to work for enterprises that have a clear purpose, and many of them also care deeply about working for a business with strong ethical, environmental and sustainability credentials. As a result, smaller, younger companies are frequently a more attractive proposition to today’s wave of IT talent.”