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Untrained IT professionals cost British businesses £20,887 in wasted work hours each year

There are few sectors where recruitment is as competitive as it is in IT.  Since 2014, the number of positions just keeps rising and business owners know there are always companies looking to lure their IT talent away. The IT Skills and Salary Report from Global Knowledge examines the keys to the successful recruitment and retention of skilled IT workers. As Global Knowledge UK Managing Director Glyn Roberts states, “internal and external motivations both play a crucial role.”

Salaries in the IT sector 

On the whole, IT workers in the UK are pretty well paid. Global Knowledge has found that this group earns an average of £58,181 (€68,000) annually, which is about 88 per cent above the country’s median income of £31,461. That places British IT workers in the high middle band when compared to their colleagues across Europe. Switzerland, for example, is an outlier with IT workers earning around €110,000 per year. The UK’s neighbours pay a bit better, with Belgium offering a salary of €70,000 and Germany €72,500. This offers IT businesses an opportunity to be seized.

It’s clear that IT businesses are having problems attracting and retaining talent. Global Knowledge has found that 47 per cent of teams in the UK report problems in this process. Moreover, 36 per cent say they need stronger IT teams to stay competitive.

Certifications as a motivator

However, Global Knowledge UK Managing Director Glyn Roberts warns that merely raising salaries without also increasing expectations is not the smartest move. “Entrepreneurs can boost internal and external motivation by offering them certifications in an area of skills that the organisation needs. A salary bump could be an incentive or logical consequence of certification.”

Certification courses also motivate employees and raise morale. Global Knowledge has found that when companies don’t offer this, staff turnover can be high: 65 per cent of IT workers in the UK have changed jobs because an organisation didn’t invest in them. Once employees feel unsupported or unhappy with their job, they’re likely to leave. A staggering 81 per cent of currently unsatisfied IT workers say they plan to switch jobs in the coming year.

On the other hand, workers who’ve earned a certification through their employers report feeling better at their job (50%), more engaged (36%) and that they can work faster (29%). There’s another major advantage to businesses besides having engaged and efficient employees: the high cost of ‘knowledge gaps’, which are the holes in staff knowledge or skills. The research shows that a worker who doesn’t know enough about their particular field  can cost around 520 hours per year, or about £20,887. Closing exactly these knowledge gaps by providing the right certifications and training to the right people, giving them the right skills is crucially important.  

Finding the knowledge gaps

One IT course is not like the other. Different certificates and skills courses each have their own value to employers. That means organisations must first find out where their knowledge gaps lie and then move employees in the right direction.

Some areas within IT have already seen some successful first steps to close these gaps. For example, nowhere are the wishes of employers and employees more aligned than in the area of cybersecurity. Global Knowledge’s report found a massive need for more security specialists in IT. Indeed, 29 per cent of managers in the UK are on the hunt for security experts. By the end of 2020, almost half (40%) of British IT professionals had obtained a certification in security and 30% of the year’s most-followed courses were in this area. Unsurprisingly, in a year that saw so many high-profile hacks and ransomware attacks, organisations are seeking to bolster their security and employees are eager to learn these skills.

Organisations often already have the right people 

To future-proof the IT sector, over a third (34%) of British companies say that more training and education is needed. In fact, 19% of companies in the UK would hire more people if they could find more candidates with the expertise they need. Glyn Roberts points out that smart companies aren’t waiting for the right candidates to appear.  He says that: “clever organisations turn the equation around. They realise that they already have great candidates in-house that they can make better through training, retraining and certification.”

The IT Skills and Salary Report from Global Knowledge is one of the largest of its kind, a study into professionals in the ICT sector. The research has been ongoing since 2006and Global Knowledge interviewed nearly 10,000 experts to form its findings.

To download the IT Skills and Salary Report please visit: