Lack of tech skills making hiring more competitive, says Morgan McKinley

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A shortage of skilled workers for in-demand tech roles is forcing hiring managers to be more competitive when making job offers, according to talent company Morgan McKinley’s 2024 salary guide.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) skills are both in demand and lacking in the talent market, an ongoing problem in the sector. More than three-quarters of hiring managers claimed this imbalance made tech hiring highly competitive across the UK last year.

Globally, just over 20% of those looking for talent said offering competitive pay and benefits had been an obstacle to tech hiring in the past 12 months.

Kieran Scully, senior manager of technology recruitment at Morgan McKinley in the UK, said as well as AI and ML, where talented workers are lacking, the next year will also see demand for workers in data, cyber and cloud.

“However, the lack of skilled professionals in these fields will make hiring competitive,” he said. “The shortage of talent in some markets will see salaries continually increase, particularly across the areas mentioned, whilst we expect them to stabilise more in software development.”

Salary is one of the main factors influencing people’s interest in a job role, with 42% of tech workers in the UK citing this as a top priority when looking for a new role. Opportunities for progression and development were also considered very important when applying for a job.

The flexibility to choose when and where you work is becoming increasingly important for tech workers, especially diverse candidates. Morgan McKinley found 75% of UK technology workers said the ability to work from home was among the top five benefits they consider most important.

More than 60% of UK workers even said they would accept a drop in salary if they could work fully flexibly.

Skills shortages are a long-standing problem in the technology sector, with many complaining of a lack of skilled technology workers to fill roles. Morgan McKinley found a quarter of those trying to hire tech talent globally cited a lack of tech talent as a challenge.

Tech hiring has been up and down since the start of the pandemic, with hiring increasing during lockdowns as it became clear how important technology would be in keeping businesses afloat, and then diminishing as inflation and uncertainty brought IT budgets down.

But Morgan McKinley found this is starting to ease, with 19% of hiring managers globally noting a lack of approval for new workers was a challenge, while half of tech managers said they were increasing headcount in the first half of 2024.

There was some uncertainty among tech workers over the past year when it came to either finding a new job or sticking where they are. When the pandemic increased the need for tech workers, the power was in the hands of employees to pick and choose roles based on what was important to them, leaving organisations fishing in the same pool for talent.

But at the beginning of last year, many were concerned about the possibility of being made redundant as the economic climate saw budget cuts and reports of job losses.

The rate at which workers are looking for new tech roles is varied, with Morgan McKinley finding 63% of tech talent in the UK choosing to stay in their roles over the past year due to uncertainty, while globally now almost half of workers are looking for a new role in the next year and 31% are open to the idea of moving.

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