More than two-thirds (68%) of British businesses think that being educated in tech subjects such as coding trumps the importance of more classic subjects such as maths and science.

The research, from tech job board CWJobs, also found that 71% of businesses urge candidates to learn tech specialisms in order to futureproof their careers.

One for the CV

Active jobseekers should take note of skills that can push them to the top of the hiring list, with eight out of 10 (80%) business leaders revealing candidates having a tech specialism is an important factor in their future hiring decisions across any job sector. In fact, six out of 10 (63%) admit they would hire someone with a tech specialism over a candidate without one, in order to futureproof their company.

A similar amount would make the same decision because the candidate would be able to train others (64%) or that it would give the business leaders themselves a chance to learn (62%).

Looking across all industries, proficiency in cyber security (79%) is seen as the most in-demand tech specialism needed by businesses in their employees, ahead of data analytics (76%) and business intelligence (76%).

The retail, catering, sport and leisure industry chose cyber security (76%) as its preferred skill, ahead of business intelligence (73%) and data analytics (72%). Sports performance analysts Catapult Sports reveal why having employees with tech skills is so important to its industry.

“We are positioned in a complex sporting business world which is driven by increasingly sophisticated data analytics, cloud infrastructure and hardware wearables,” said Ronan MacRuairi, SVP of Applied Research and Irish Operations at Catapult.

“The majority of our work revolves around moving and manipulating data – everything we do starts with data acquisition, moves through data transformation storage and visits presentation along the way. This is true for business applications, simple apps and even console games. All our engineers code as a fundamental requirement. The traditional skill and understanding of coding will always be important, however this ability must be in context of how new software is deployed. Therefore, a strong understanding of cyber security, AI, DevOps and how your work is consumed by end users is extremely important.”

Around the country, London’s business leaders had the same priorities as the rest of the nation, but nearly three-quarters (73%) also said skills around Internet of Things (IoT) were important for their employees to have. In Birmingham, over half (54%) think coding is a vital skill.

Demand for these skills from future employees is emphasised by the lack of tech specialisms within current UK workforces. Cloud skills (44%) emerged as the most prevalent in employees*, ahead of cyber security (43%), with no specific skill present in a majority of UK businesses’ workforces.

More lessons to be learned

As the UK faces a skills crisis, over half of UK business leaders (53%) revealed they don’t think children are taught enough tech specialisms at school. When asked when kids should be taught tech skills, nearly three-quarters (73%) feel it needs to be during primary (37%) or secondary education (36%). In fact, in order to help close the tech skills gap, 86% of businesses would consider partnering with a school or college.

Aside from education, UK business leaders think there are additional ways to plug the skills gap, with increasing training programmes (52%), more government investment in the tech industry (50%) and offering more apprenticeships (47%) the top suggestions.

“The UK is facing a skills crisis and those with tech specialisms on their CV are being sought after by all companies, now more than ever,” said Dominic Harvey, Director at CWJobs.

“In order to plug that gap, businesses are calling for tech to be given more of a prominence in the school curriculum. What’s clear is that learning a tech skill isn’t just something that’s relevant for one role or one industry, but the entire UK workforce needs to be embracing it if the country is to remain competitive on the world stage.”

*Excluding those surveyed who did not know what skills were prevalent in their business

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