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Why widening the search for talent is key to meeting demand for tech skills

In today’s candidate-driven market, the key to attracting new candidates is to recruit from as wide a talent pool as possible. Discover how flexible and remote working, and recruiting internationally can help fill your skills gaps.

A man sat at his desk in an office, facing his computer screen which is displaying a graph.

With the UK tech sector now valued at $1 trillion (a 42% growth since 2018), employers are in need of larger talent pools to fill their skills gaps amid the global cost of living crisis.

A 2022 report from ECI Partners finds that nearly a fifth (18%) of HR managers say their biggest hiring challenge is a lack of technical skills and knowledge. To overcome these challenges, the managers surveyed disclosed that their top priority is to adopt more flexible and remote working practices (22%).

By making jobs available as hybrid, or remote positions, employers can increase candidate engagement and tap into a more diverse talent pool.

The tech talent drought

According to the Office for National Statistics, 91% of adults in the UK reported an increase in their cost of living between June and July 2022. As inflation increases, the tech industry will continue to experience skills shortages.

And its these shortages that threaten to make the industry’s widening skills gap even worse. A recent report from AND Digital finds that 81% of UK managing directors say a lack of digital skills is negatively affecting their company and hurting the wider economy.

The North West of England in particular, is experiencing what is being described as a tech talent drought. The increased demand for tech workers for start-ups and large organisations has drained the limited pool they had built.

Speaking to Prolific North, Leif Kavan Radford, Data and Tech Recruitment Director at The Candidate says that the tech market has never been more competitive than it is now, with flexible working, salaries, and benefits being key bargaining tools.     

Hiring candidates from outside local areas

With an increasing number of companies struggling to fill their tech skills gaps locally, we expect to see more employers widening their candidate search to include neighbouring cities.

In cases where workers will need to commute to another city, employers need to ensure that they’re offering enough incentives to retain talent over the long-term. And when candidates need to relocate, employers should highlight the benefits of the local area in job adverts.

People who are willing to relocate for the right role want to know what the location has to offer in terms of lifestyle, cost of living, attractions, house prices, and schools. Recruiters can use the unique selling points of each location to encourage candidates to apply for roles.

Attracting talent through remote and flexible working options

Our 2022 Confidence Index found that 30% of IT decision makers plan to explore more remote work to save on costs. This will also give them the freedom to embrace talent from different backgrounds, who will have different experiences and points of view.

Technology employees can often do their work remotely and easily than those in other sectors, so it comes as no surprise that Randstad’s 2022 Employer Brand Report finds that nearly half (47%) of the IT workforce feel that their employer should offer flexible working.

A recent report published by the UK Government finds that over half of home workers report that it’s quicker to complete work (52%) and that they have fewer distractions (53%). Being open to offering remote positions can also attract skilled workers from rural locations, as well as carers and people with disabilities, who may not be able to travel for work.

The same Government report reveals that more than three-quarters (78%) of those who work from home say that it gives them an improved work life balance, and almost half (47%) report improved wellbeing.

Recruiting from outside of the UK tech sector

As digitisation takes hold across the wider business landscape, almost every industry will come to rely on tech expertise. In turn, this will provide recruiters with the opportunity to hire from a wider talent pool, from industries like finance, medicine, and retail, where technology is playing an ever-increasing role.

A recent survey conducted by Mason Frank International found that more than half of tech professionals who are thinking about moving to the UK, would consider choosing a city outside of London. The report found that 54% of respondents would be open to pursuing opportunities in cities like Newcastle, Liverpool, and Leeds.

Using technology to improve hiring reach

Our Confidence Index 2022 finds that 41% of companies plan to make better use of recruitment technology, with 32% experimenting with new recruitment channels, and 29% turning to low-code technology platforms, AI tools, or robotics to plug short-term talent gaps.

According to a recent survey from CIPD, the top benefits of using recruitment technology are increased accessibility, improved candidate experience, and speed.

Instant candidate recommendation tools and automated technology like the chatbot, Mya can now source candidates, administer assessments, schedule interviews and provide candidates with regular updates on the status of their applications.

Likewise, smart tools, such as Equality Boost, enables recruiters to pinpoint when, where and how to reach talent by demographic, location and interest. Through display advertising, companies can attract both passive and active candidates, monitor campaign performance and measures its success over time.