Is a Lack of Diversity Fuelling Our IT Skills Deficiency?

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New research from the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) shows that the skills challenge is going to increase over the next three years for tech businesses. The link between the continuing skills challenge and a lack of diversity in the workplace are part of the same issue, but is consistently overlooked by tech business leaders, claim Memset.

The CIF research report: Cloud – the next generation: future scenarios, analysed the findings from interviews with 250 senior IT business decision makers in SMEs, large enterprises and public sector organisations in the UK. The research found that 52 per cent of UK tech companies lack IT skills in at least one area of their business. Furthermore, half of respondents expected to face a skills gap within three years, more than double the current figure.

Commenting on these findings, Chief Operations Officer, Annalisa O’Rourke, said:

“The latest research from CIF shows that the skills challenge is not going away and in fact is only going to become more acute in the years ahead. We read a lot about the need to upskill existing workers and to train the next generation, but what is often less talked about is the need to expand the gene pool of potential recruits. For example, at present only a fraction of the UK’s female workforce operates in IT, and this is a massive constraint on the potential numbers of people who could be qualified to work in the sector. We have a big cultural job to do.”

Companies can put a range of measures in place in their hiring and retention strategies to support diverse employment. Some key steps include:

  • Making the selection criteria and hiring processes transparent, and broadening hiring decisions through the company to encourage a diversity of views
  • Never using quotas, which only serve to alienate and categorise employees
  • Avoiding language traditionally associated with masculinity (dominant, challenging, aggressive) in applications and business conversations that can discourage women and LGBTQ+ candidates
  • Not limiting the definition of diversity and constantly being open and inclusive to new ways of thinking, organising and problem solving

O’Rourke continues:

“IT businesses of all sizes need to take a serious look at the type of culture they create. There is no silver bullet and even if we make our businesses more open and inclusive, it will take time for more young women and other groups to come up through the education system. However, creating an inclusive culture means that you as an IT business are playing your part in addressing the ongoing skills challenge that we all face.”