UK businesses facing largest IT skills deficit in Europe, finds new research from Claranet

Statistics suggest organisations need to upskill their staff and become less reliant on internal teams to keep the lights on

As the rapid pace of digital change continues to grip UK businesses, leaders are faced with the constant challenge of implementing large-scale technology improvements in order to keep up with their competitors. However, research commissioned by managed services provider Claranet has indicated that few organisations have the required digital skills to make this happen, both within the IT department and the broader business.

Polling 750 IT and digital decision-makers from organisations across Europe, market research company Vanson Bourne found that 38 per cent of UK companies believe that skills shortages represent one of the biggest challenges facing their IT departments. This figure is considerably higher than the percentages reported in France (13 per cent), Germany (26 per cent), Spain (29 per cent), Portugal (29 per cent) and the Benelux countries (17 per cent), and highlights a significant disparity between the UK and the rest of Europe.

To underline the nature of the problem further, more than half of UK respondents agree that there is a digital skills shortage across the whole of the organisation, demonstrating that the deficit is not confined purely to the IT department.

Commenting on the findings, Michel Robert, Managing Director at Claranet UK said: “The shift towards digital technologies to drive transformation is placing constant demands on businesses to be as innovative as possible, but requires the right skills to make happen.”

The severity of the skills deficit can be framed within the importance that respondents attach to improving security. 49 per cent of UK organisations said that shoring up security is a high priority objective for the IT department over the next 12 months – significantly higher than France (33 per cent) and the Benelux (39 per cent). For Robert, this provides compelling evidence of a need for businesses to both rapidly upskill their workforces and also reduce their reliance on internal IT teams:

“With security being such a pressing concern, UK businesses have to act quickly before the skills deficit grows further. An important part of this lies in upskilling staff across the organisation to make them more comfortable with the adoption of digital technologies and what it takes to secure critical data and infrastructure. With Brexit on the horizon and the accompanying uncertainties around the future supply of skilled employees from other European countries, this is especially important.

“However, it’s also crucial to realise that success in this area cannot rely purely on making internal changes. Innovation is central to making digital improvement a success, so IT departments and the wider business need to have time freed up to enable them to focus on what their company does best. By partnering with external service providers, organisations can remove the burden of operational IT tasks and responsibilities and make innovation the core emphasis within the business.”

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