Mind The Gap Content

Mind the IT skills gap

24 June 2015

How scarce resource could challenge FinTech growth

London is home to Europe's fastest growing tech cluster, with 27% of all job growth in London generated by the financial technology and IT industry. Britain's FinTech sector as a whole is a bright spot in the UK’s recovering economy -  investment in London FinTech grew by 136% last year and the capital received 42% of all European FinTech investment in 2014. 

This phenomenal growth is positioning the UK at the nucleus of global technology and FinTech dominance, and as such, there is a rising awareness that in order to meet the ever-growing demands of this proliferating industry, Britain will need to set itself up for a tech-centric workforce to avoid a skills gap problem. New initiatives are coming into play to encourage young people to acquire IT skills and adopt careers in technology

Charlie Tuxworth, Director of Software and Innovation at Equiniti, said: “It’s essential that financial firms which have a heavy reliance on IT become actively involved in improving the image of IT and FinTech as desirable career choice, and in encouraging school children to take up the STEM subjects. He continues:

Equiniti has a number of STEM ambassadors who promote the sector at school level, and whilst we are also closely linked to universities to provide opportunities to graduates, we also work with regional colleges to provide ‘apprentice-like’ internships which allow us to take applicants from an earlier age.

A study carried out on behalf of O2 found that Britain will need 750,000 skilled digital workers by 2017. UK-wide, 135,000 work in financial services technology alone. If not addressed, the IT skills gap could jeopardise the UK’s economic growth and will most certainly negatively affect the growth and dominance of the UK FinTech sector.
While the emphasis on skills fundamentally needs to start at grass-roots level to instil digital aptitude into the new generation of talent, there is concern that the graduate-saturated market isn’t nurturing enough skills in advanced mathematics, engineering and computer sciences.  

Only 12% of businesses believe that the UK has enough tech-skilled people coming through, and in order to cultivate the technical innovators of the future, it is likely that IT modules will need to be extensively instated within schools and educational establishments and businesses still need to do more to encourage IT and FinTech careers leading into their organisations.

Charlie said: “CIO magazine recently reported that while the IT industry is expected to grow at five times the UK average over the next 10 years, those coming through the education system on the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) are reducing. 
“While the skills shortage isn’t unique to businesses with a reliance on IT, the problem is particularly acute in the IT and FinTech sectors, where there is an acceleration in the release of innovative, desirable technologies that raise the bar in terms of expectations and requirements. The concern is that the skills gap continues to widen.” 

The generation now known as ‘the millennials’ is the most digitally engaged yet, but there still seems to be an inherent challenge recruiting young people into IT and FinTech careers due to its perceived unattractiveness as a career option in comparison to accountancy or teaching. 

The IT industry offers one of very few careers where there are effectively no limits to what can be achieved by people with great ideas. Not everyone is going to invent the next Google or Facebook, but as technologies and ideas move at a rapid pace, the opportunities are definitely there.

“The skills shortage isn’t just a short term problem, but if the IT and FinTech sectors work with the education providers at all levels, we may be able to prevent it from becoming a long term one,” Charlie added.