The IT skills shortage is still posing a challenge for organisations in all sectors. According to 2023 research by Forbes Advisor, 93% of businesses have reported a gap in IT skills within the UK job market, with 42% saying the widening problem is due to fast-paced technological change.

This can hinder the UK government’s vision for the country’s tech ecosystem to become a rival one to Silicon Valley. As organisations continue on their digitalisation journey, they’re in greater need of employees who have specific technology skills and experience in, for instance, data analytics, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence (AI) or software development.

The IT job shortage won’t just go away and has become an urgent matter to resolve. If the entire country and individual organisations are to successfully protect themselves from cyber hackers, improve operational efficiency or thrive in the future, they’ll need a skilled tech workforce who can utilise new technologies to their maximum.

In this blog, we’ll assess how serious the problem of a widening IT skills gaps in the UK is and what companies can do to resolve the tech skills shortage and increase IT diversity. We’ll refer to the findings of our latest research of 250 UK IT decision-makers to paint a true picture of the problem.

What IT skills are organisations short of?

The problem of IT skills shortages spans across a few different areas, with the top three being AI, cloud and security, as revealed in our research. Here’s more details:

  • AI skills gap

With AI developing faster than any previous innovation, organisations need to ensure they have the right tech talent in place to enable them to use the technology and see its full array of benefits. Unfortunately, for nearly three in ten (29%) organisations, AI is where the biggest IT skills gap is. As such, one third (33%) foresee integrating AI and data analytics as their biggest infrastructure challenge in the next ten years.

AI has the power to transform the entire tech sector, modernise digital IT infrastructures and enhance IT operations management to help businesses accelerate problem resolution or analyse huge volumes of data. However, if the AI skills shortage isn’t resolved soon, the world could risk advancements in AI slowing down, potentially putting to a halt many innovation and digitalisation projects.

  • Cloud skills gap

The AI skills gap isn’t the only one of concern. According to our research, one in five (20%) of organisations also struggle to acquire enough IT professionals with the necessary expertise in cloud computing. With more businesses migrating to cloud-based infrastructure and services, or implementing hybrid approaches with cloud and colocation, there simply isn’t enough cloud personnel to meet the growing demand.

Cloud skills are incredibly important to the success of digital transformation initiatives and needed to correctly set up and configure cloud platforms, design applications, and securely build cloud infrastructure at scale. Without those in-demand cloud skills and technology, businesses won’t be able to keep pace with the innovations required to stay competitive and serve customers well.

  • Security skills shortage

Cybersecurity is an area of huge growth opportunities for tech workers who want to future-proof their career. As businesses are connecting more IoT devices and adopting emerging technologies, they’re in need of tech talent who can adjust their security strategies, minimise vulnerabilities and reduce operational and financial risk. For 14% of IT decision-makers, however, security is where the biggest IT skills gap lies.

The scale of the cyber security skills shortages is actually much larger, according to the research by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, which revealed that 50% of all UK business have a basic cyber security skills gap, and 33% an advanced one. With more frequent and more sophisticated threats, organisations need the tech talent with specific skills in data loss prevention, firewalls, cloud security and risk mitigation.

How to combat IT skill shortages

Given the pace and importance of technology implementation, the tech industry need to prioritise addressing the problem of IT skills shortages. Here’s a list of initiatives companies can do, and are already doing, as revealed in our research:

  • 35% are running internal training programs and 34% external training programs
  • 35% are turning to external experts for recruitment help
  • 33% are looking for tech workers with transferable skills
  • 29% are investing in advanced tools to improve efficiency of understaffed teams
  • 23% are collaborating with educational institutions

As the tech industry is trying to retain skilled talent and encouraging more women and young people straight from university to choose IT careers, it also faces an issue of a lack of diversity. 63% of IT decision-makers believe their team lacks diversity and inclusion. In an effort to boost diversity and inclusion, companies should be diversifying their hiring practices, looking into workplace policies and implementing education and training programmes. That way, they will be able to generate interest in the digital infrastructure sector as a career and benefit from more diverse teams.

How to close the skill gap and increase diversity in IT

With phrases such as “the great resignation” and “quiet quitting” dominating news headlines, organisations need to think about wider strategies designed to address the talent shortage and attract and retain skilled workers.

If you’d like to find out more about how organisations can ensure they have the right people and skills in place to combat future infrastructure challenges, download our report.

And if you’re thinking about a career in a leading colocation data centre, check out our careers page.

Download our research report