UK SMEs wrestle with IT staff shortages

Almost 1 in 2 of the UK’s SMEs are struggling to hire IT staff with appropriate skills and qualifications, according to figures released today. The research, published by Node4, the Cloud and Data Centre specialist, reveals a varied picture across the UK, with skill shortages being most evident in the South East, North East and the East Midlands.

The skills shortage is most acute in the South East where 65% of UK SMEs are struggling to recruit IT staff for their in-house IT operations, closely followed by the North East and the East Midlands, where 60% of SMEs are finding it difficult to recruit the IT talent they need. The picture inside the nation’s capital is not much better either, with 46% of London-based SMEs suffering from the IT talent shortage.

As a result, outsourced IT provision is becoming an increasingly viable option for the 79% of UK SMEs that are frustrated with their current IT infrastructure. It is perhaps no surprise that 65% of SMEs agree that outsourcing their IT infrastructure removes the headache of IT management and almost half use some form of cloud infrastructure.

Given that 52% of UK SMEs said reliability was a key IT infrastructure concern and a third citing their IT infrastructure is difficult to manage, the national IT skills shortage goes some way to explain why an increasing number of business decision makers are choosing to completely outsource their IT infrastructure. Cost is also a factor, nearly a third of respondents noted in-house IT infrastructure costs too much to maintain.

Indeed, Node4’s research highlights a 5% increase in the amount of UK SMEs with entirely outsourced IT provision, compared to last year. With mission-critical tasks dependent on IT infrastructure, talent is simply not something UK SMEs can afford to wait for.

Paul Bryce, Business Development Director, Node4, commented: “Companies increasingly view technology and IT as a business enabler, as something that underpins their day to day operations. But along with the growing importance of technology has come the need for increasingly skilled staff to manage, maintain and constantly develop these complex systems.

“The nationwide struggle for skilled talent is a major concern for businesses. With a large number of SMEs frustrated with technical limitations and the day-to-day administration of their infrastructure it’s hardly surprising that local outsourcing has become a preference so that organisations can continue to win more business, beat the competition and succeed.”

To find out more please download Node4’s recently launched report, Responding to the IT Infrastructure Challenge. The report shows how UK SMEs are looking to generate maximum ROI and reliability from their IT investment whilst overcoming talent acquisition and technical issues and offers advice and recommendations for SMEs to deploy IT solutions that will help them achieve their business goals.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine