Is tech skill and IT recruitment changing for UK SMEs?

It’s become a cliché to say UK IT recruitment has been challenging or “candidate-led” for the past few years. Yet now, SMEs in need of tech talent could be seeing the pendulum swing in their favour.

Several of the largest tech firms in the UK have announced hiring freezes or lay-offs in the past year. This could be a golden opportunity for smaller firms to recruit tech talent that would normally go elsewhere.

The tech skills shortage – so long a feature of the UK’s IT jobs market – could be undergoing a small reversal. Just in time for so many organisations in search of relevant talent for their digital transformation.

Big Tech hiring freezes and lay-offs may widen the talent pool

In recent months, some of the largest tech firms in the US have laid-off thousands of employees. Even Microsoft and Apple have reduced their numbers of contract workers and removed job adverts.

The UK is seeing a smaller trend in the same direction with around 2000 lay-offs from London-based firms, including:

  • Around 150 from digital asset trader Blockchain
  • Roughly 100 from the provider of the Babylon health app
  • Approximately 750 from major online car retailer Cazoo

Many major firms have instituted hiring freezes instead of lay-offs. But this is still a major change from the growth, growth, growth attitude of constant hiring that Big Tech firms usually engage in.

How to take advantage of changes in the IT jobs market

In 2021, official figures showed that IT job vacancies in the UK were up by around 50% over the previous year.

Now that Big Tech firms are slowing their recruitment, smaller companies have a big opportunity to snap up talent. Those that succeed in doing so will:

1) Invest in skills

Many candidates in the engineering and IT jobs markets are driven by opportunities for professional development. Publicising the training and progression opportunities you offer is a big draw.

Some of the key IT skills that candidates want to know they can receive training in include:

  • Cloud and Software-as-a-Service technologies
  • Data science and analytics
  • ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and efficiency software
  • Cyber, data, and information security
  • Machine learning and AI

UK businesses, tech specialists, and IT recruitment agencies alike have long been calling for major national investment in STEM education. In lieu of this, some employers are reaching out to local schools and colleges.

There’s also a need to make IT and engineering fields more attractive to young women – massively under-represented in both industries and a huge pool of potential talent.

2) Consider offering status and recognition

Financial rewards and bigger pay packets are an obvious draw for tech talent. But many engineering and IT employers overlook the attraction of offering greater recognition instead of – or in addition to – straightforward money.

Offering more impressive titles, status, and other ways of recognising talent and hard work are a much more cost-effective way of attracting candidates looking for the opportunities that Big Tech jobs offer.

3) Work with a recruitment specialist

Businesses that need to attract the most suitable talent benefit from working with specialist IT recruiters who understand the market, the players involved, and how to match the best candidates with the specific needs of individual organisations.

If you’re an employer wanting to take advantage of the potential turnaround in the tech and IT jobs market we might be seeing, it’s worth carefully analysing your recruitment processes if you want to hire the talent you need.

Want to talk through your IT recruitment needs with an expert – with no cost or commitment?

Ernest Gordon is a specialist IT and engineering recruitment agency. We use market-leading AI recruitment tools and have access to the best professionals in both fields.

Arrange an obligation-free chat with one of our recruiters today to talk through your organisation’s specific requirements.