Java and Python programming languages in demand as skills shortage widens

The skills shortage is spreading further, with developers for data science, DevOps and cloud roles in high demand.
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

Developers with skills in Java and Python programming languages remain among the toughest to find as the UK's skills shortage spreads beyond the capital. 

Almost two thirds of CIOs say they are finding it hard to source the right staff, and this is increasingly an issue for companies beyond the capital, according to a survey by Harvey Nash and KPMG.

SEE: Six in-demand programming languages: Getting started (free PDF)

Harvey Nash director David Savage said the recruiter found the biggest skills shortages were in data science and analytics. He said because data science demands a narrow field of technical skills, plus a highly academic approach, there are huge problems in the talent pipeline and no clear or easy way to increase the number of available professionals. 

"Beyond that, we continue to see big demand for DevOps skills and cloud skills like Azure and Dynamics, and within software Java, React and Python are some of the toughest skills to find," he said. 

While almost two thirds of tech leaders in London (63%) are reporting shortages, this figure has remained stable over the past 12 months – as those reporting shortages in the North West (65%) and North East (63%) has continued to rise. 

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This suggests that the pressure on finding tech skills in the capital has levelled off, but the problem has worsened in cities like Manchester and Leeds. While previously companies outside of London had not reported skills shortages as great as those within the capital, that difference has largely gone away. While salaries for developers and other IT staff tend to be lower outside of the capital the cost of living can also be lower, so some workers may actually be better off outside London.

In London the top three areas for skills shortages were big data/analytics, reported by 41% of tech managers, followed by DevOps (39%) and technical architecture/cybersecurity (35%). The shortage of big data staff was worse in the North West (mentioned by 49% of managers, and 38% in the North East). Just over one third of companies in the North West said they struggled to find developers, while 30% struggled to find IT security staff. Harvey Nash said that across the UK a further 16,000 big data and analytics specialists are required to fill this growing skills gap. 

Image: Harvey Nash/KPMG

Across England, roughly two-thirds of CIOs are reporting they are finding it hard to get access to skills, with all regions reporting a growing shortage apart from the south west. In Scotland, this proportion of CIOs reporting a shortage has dropped from 66% to 58% in the past two years. 

It's not clear why demand for IT staff in London has stabilised while it continues to rise outside the capital; it's possible some businesses in the capital have cut back in the face of Brexit uncertainty. Other factors may include the growth of tech hubs outside of London which will be putting additional pressure on smaller pools of talent.

SEE: Learn Python: Online training courses for beginning developers and coding experts (TechRepublic)

Companies with the biggest IT budgets, those with more than £250m, are struggling to find recruits, with 74% reporting a critical shortage and finding it hard to hold onto key staff. Larger corporates may be missing out on younger staff who are more interested in innovative projects and learning new skills, than in salary and job security, the recruitment company said.

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