Tech Skills: Is it a good time for techies to go solo?

29th December, 2020
Tech Skills: Is it a good time for techies to go solo?

If there’s one industry that’s come out on top this year it’s tech. While other sectors struggled, organisations quickly realised that the one area they couldn’t do without was technology. The right tech skills are relevant across all industries, enabling organisations to move forward and stay relevant. Without access to these skills, businesses simply won’t survive. Here we look at how the tech sector is developing and why it’s a great time for those with tech skills to go solo.

The tech skills gap is widening

Even before the pandemic, tech was revolutionising the way we live and work. Cutting edge technologies like AI, Blockchain and the Internet of Things were collectively resulting in rapid changes that impacted our everyday lives. Rather than slowing developments down, the coronavirus pandemic has reinforced the importance of technology. Jobs in the tech sector have grown exponentially, even during the pandemic, so demand for the best tech talent will be even greater in 2021.

As businesses transition online and companies turn to hybrid working models, the need for IT and robust support systems has never been greater. With everyone needing access to tech skills to make the post-pandemic transition, there’s a widening skills gap. This has also been compounded by Brexit. While European candidates currently make up a significant amount of the UK talent pool, from January 1, 2021, anyone from overseas wanting to work in the UK will need a Tier 2 visa and will effectively have to be sponsored.

Tech companies are predicted to pay out up to 20% more in salaries next year as demand exceeds supply. The Open University found that 56% of UK businesses state this growing skills gap has already affected their business negatively. Such is the rapid rate of change; many IT departments have been left overstretched and struggling to keep up.

Organisations often don’t have the time and resources to train staff on the job, particularly when it comes to specialist tech skills. This is why many businesses are realising that they can cover the costs of external flexible resourcing more efficiently than hiring a full-time employee. IT contractors can be used to meet specific pressure points, without committing to long term overheads or lengthy hiring processes. This is critical as organisations face an uncertain marketplace in the months ahead.

The Top 15 Jobs of the Future saw tech come out on top, with roles such as Artificial Intelligence Specialist achieving a massive increase of 74% annual growth, Robotics Engineer 40% growth, Data Scientist 37%, Full Stack Engineer 35% and Site Reliability Engineer 34%. Those who might be thinking that AI and Robotics still belong to a realm of the future should take note, the future is here. And while most of the workforce might not work in AI, it will require the entire workforce to learn new skills to keep up to date with the significant changes it will bring.

Apart from IT, the Foresight 2021 research report by Lux shows that technology will be instrumental in tackling some of the world’s most fundamental problems in 2021, such as the development of alternative proteins, green energy, plastic recycling and medicine. This will see a huge demand for candidates with STEM skills that can be deployed on major projects. Using data including patents, academic papers, funding, and more, the report identifies the top emerging technologies for the year ahead and beyond, including the following:

Autonomous vehicles: There’s been rapid development in the areas of autonomous vehicles with several trials completed. The recent changes in retail supply chains as businesses source more domestic products means that Driverless Haulage technology could save the industry between £33bn and £47bn on insurance, labour, vehicle utilisation and fuel, after only 10 years of implementation.

Natural language processing: Powering devices like voice assistants, machine translation, and chatbots, natural language processing (NLP) patents have seen 44% annual growth over the past five years, now reaching more than 3,000 publications annually.

Plastic recycling: Companies have made commitments to increasing recycling rates and innovations that can convert waste into higher-value products. Over the past decade alone, 155 start-ups addressing plastic waste have been founded.

Alternative proteins: Global demand for protein supply sustainably is an urgent concern. Companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are showing that there is a massive opportunity to cater to sustainability-minded consumers and to the demand for protein choice in general.

For techies thinking about making the transition from permanent to contracting, the ability to command premium rates for your tech skills has never been greater. While companies are watching their bottom line, tech budgets are healthy for short and longer-term projects. Meanwhile, competition for access to tech skills is driving rates up, with the potential to negotiate excellent terms. Increased earning potential is only one of the advantages of contracting, which also offers many lifestyle benefits.

For more news on the sectors currently hiring read our article here. If you’re starting a new contract, ContractingWISE has access to a wide range of hassle-free services that can help you with setting up a limited company or finding the right umbrella company for you. To talk to a member of our team, call: 0203 642 8679


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