Report finds that Northern digital companies are struggling to find top talent

New research has revealed that in the north of England, around 58% of digital organisations are struggling to find the talent they need.

According to the statistics published by global services firm EY and Tech North, there have been nearly 713,000 digital job vacancies advertised in the last three years. There are believed to be just less than 170,000 digital and technology professionals working in this part of the country. This means that there are around 1.4 job vacancies per employed digital worker.

Employers are struggling to find the talent they need for digital transformation and growth, a situation that is echoed across the UK as a whole. Reports suggest that by 2020, the UK will need to find around 2.3 million skilled technology workers.

Commenting on the findings of the research, Tech North’s Director Richard Gregory said:

“Back in 2017, we convened over a hundred members of the digital community in the North of England to propose solutions to the skills gap… not just talk around the edges of it. We were, and still are, focused on action.

“This data presents a big challenge – digital tech roles are more likely to remain unfilled compared to other industries, however this is also an opportunity since these jobs typically pay more than the median average salary, delivering a higher level of productivity to the economy in the process.”

8 specific problems

The report highlighted 8 problems that could be holding back the North’s tech ecosystem, along with recommendations for improving them. These were:

  1. Create a Northern Digital Skills Network to connect, coordinate and drive digital skills activity in the North
  2. Create a Northern Digital Jobs Portal for employers with opportunities and job-hunters to interact
  3. Improve careers advice to highlight the availability of digital opportunities in the local area
  4. Make digital mainstream in schools – a long-term approach to closing the skills gap
  5. Encourage those from underrepresented groups to consider entering the digital sector
  6. Use the Apprenticeship Levy as a catalyst for changing attitudes to employability
  7. Run campaigns on northern digital jobs awareness to encourage people to seek out training and jobs opportunities in the North
  8. Prioritise skilling up the local workforce to deal with the potential effects of Brexit.

The full list of statistics and recommendations can be seen in the report.

Digital outperforming other sectors on productivity

Despite this apparent skills shortage, the digital, tech and IT industry in the North is thriving. Productivity has outperformed every other sector in this part of England, growing four times faster. In terms of economic value, the Gross Added Value (GVA) of the digital tech jobs industry was £9.9 billion. This is predicted to grow by a significant 3.5% – around three times that of manufacturing – every year until 2020.

If your organisation is struggling to find the talent needed for growth or digital transformation, it’s time to turn to a specialist. Get in touch with SOLOS Consultants, as we are industry-renowned for IT, tech and digital recruitment.



photo courtesy of Sira Anamwong @


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