The UK’s pioneering technology sector could be left trailing behind other countries in the race to develop cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and software because of an acute skills shortage, a leading tech expert fears.
Businessman Austen Clark believes that competition to recruit from talent pool is so great that firms need to invest in school leavers and young people by offering apprenticeships and training.
Mr Clark, managing director of Aberdeenshire-based Clark Integrated Technologies, said that without nurturing the next generation of talent, firms will not be able to grow their expertise in the fastest-growing technology disciplines.
Mr Clark has highlighted how it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit people with the right skills in the technology sector. He warned that without the right employees, technology firms seeking to grow expertise in areas such as cybersecurity, cloud, software development, data analysis, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things could find themselves stifled.
Mr Clark commented: “It’s no revelation to say that recruitment has been a challenge to our sector for some time.
“Without addressing the lack of skilled workers that are available, it could seriously impact on the growth of home-grown technology companies.”
There might not be any quick fix solutions to plugging the skills gap, but Mr Clark believes that there is hope. The problem has been recognised by the government and industry bodies who are actively seeking solutions and schemes which may assist.
With secondary schools closing for the summer, and leavers set to embark on their studies or first jobs, they should be mindful of opportunities that are available at technology companies.
It’s not just young people that need to be encouraged into the industry – for those considering a change in direction or retraining, it’s an industry that offers stability and progression opportunities.
Mr Clark added: “As a small-medium enterprise (SME) operating in a rural part of Scotland we’ve gone down the road of recruiting school leavers and encouraging young blood and raw talent into the industry.
“By offering modern apprenticeships this gives young people living in our region the chance to gain on-the-job training in an industry that has lots of opportunities for the future.
“This has worked well for us, but across the industry we need to fill the jobs that are integral to the field with people who have the right technical knowledge and expertise.
“We are leading increasingly digital lives, in both work and play, and will continue to do so in the future as AI plays a greater part in work and life operations. We need the right technical expertise within the industry to support this.
“This is particularly true if the Government’s aspirations for the UK to be confident, capable and resilient in a fast-moving digital world are to be met. It is accepted that much of our prosperity depends on our ability to secure technology, data and networks from the many threats faced, yet cyberattacks are growing more frequent, sophisticated and damaging when they succeed.”
The UK Government’s National Cyber Security Strategy 2016 to 2021 sets out the blueprint to make Britain secure and resilient in cyberspace. It seeks to move the UK a whole towards greater cyber resilience.
Written by Austen Clark, Clark IT
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