Skills Uncertainty, Not Shortages, Is the Real Issue across Europe

Claranet reveals that partnerships are key to establishing business certainty and insulating against skills shortages

Recent research from Claranet has found that while IT leaders from across Europe report skills shortages as a challenge, they do so to differing degrees, and over the next five years, this divergence is set to increase.

For the managed services provider (MSP), the results point to an uncertainty over the future of IT skills across Europe which can only be addressed by establishing trusted partnerships with third party suppliers.

The research, which surveyed 900 IT decision-makers from the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and the Benelux, from a range of mid-market organisations, found that concerns about skills shortages across Europe are rife and are likely to worsen.

Today, 21 percent of European businesses cite skills shortages as one of their biggest IT challenges, and this is expected to increase to 25 percent by 2020.

The UK, however, bucks this trend; 26 percent of businesses in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland currently concerned about skills, but with this set to decline to 16 percent in five years’ time.

One possible explanation for this is the UK’s anticipated increase in the use of third party providers to support internal IT teams; third parties will manage 22 percent of the average UK IT estate by 2020, up from 15 percent today.

Commenting on the research, Andy Wilton, Claranet’s Group CIO, said: “It’s clear that the labour market is in flux and, in truth, it’s difficult to know with certainty what skills will be needed in five years’ time or where those skilled professionals will be; particularly as free movement in the European labour market continues to take hold and IT skills become more specialised.

“For a long time, businesses - particularly those in the mid-market - have tried to be masters of everything, and manage everything internally. But that kind of approach doesn’t make sense any more, nor is it possible as certain skills shortages start to bite.

“The key for European businesses wishing to move away from deepening uncertainty over skills is to develop beneficial partnerships, which will help to insulate against any skills shortages and allow them to up-skill staff to directly add value to their businesses.”

Wilton concluded: “Through our work as an MSP in the UK and Europe, we’ve helped our clients manage their IT, allowing them to add better value to their businesses rather than struggle with technical issues. Strong use and implementation of MSPs is key to reducing the uncertainty around the skills crisis.

“Ultimately, this will increase the confidence of mid-sized businesses through shouldering their IT skills risk, allowing for better focus on business growth in the modern world.”