Innovation Insider – Solving the Digital Skills Gap

What is the digital skills gap and why does it affect your business?

Digital skills are used in our ever-developing online and tech-oriented world. Roles in digital marketing, software development, programming and digital design have become the most sought-after and lucrative positions across the country.

According to a report published by the Learning and Work Institute, 92% of UK Organisations report that digital skills are key to financial success. Other reports indicate that 82% of all roles across the UK require digital skills. However, it was revealed recently that 69% of UK business leaders believe that their own organisations are currently facing a digital skills gap

As this digital skills gap grows, so does the growing demand for professionals with these skills. Average salaries for tech jobs in London have doubled since 2019. It’s clear that the demand will continue accelerate and continue to outstrip supply, especially of UK based talent.

Let’s explore a little more as to why we have ended up in this position.

The Biggest Myth/Barrier of The Tech Industry

When people hear “working in technology”, their mind automatically drifts to developers, coders and software engineers. However, coding certainly isn’t the only highly-valued and highly-sought digital skill.

Many people drop out of the technology industry relatively early on in their professional careers. This is usually because they are trying to become coders but don’t have the appropriate personality type to succeed. There isn’t a fundamental understanding or push from educational institutions to train people in other digital skills and to pursue non-coding digital roles like business analysts, account managers, UX, designers and program managers.

These non-coding roles are often overlooked even though they make up a large and critical part of any digital project.

Tom Howarth, B13 Technology’s Founder, was a software developer for more than 11 years, growing to be a prominent software architect in the industry working as a Technical Lead for GCHQ for projects such as the 2012 Olympics.

However, when Tom reached this prominent position, he observed that there was a digital skills gap in the making. In light of that, Tom decided to start his own business and founded B13 Technology as a way to provide UK businesses lacking the digital skills to experience a UK based software consulting service, connected to high quality off-shore development talent in Vietnam to provide flexible, affordable access to digital solutions.

B13 Technology and the Digital Skills Gap

Over the last decade, we’ve seen the digital skills gap increase dramatically. It’s estimated that this skills gap costs the British economy £63 billion every year, with 49% of SMEs and 72% of large enterprise level businesses reported to be suffering from the gap.

There are many views  as to why the skills gap is increasing so rapidly. Some believe it’s due to poor education, and cite that only 35% of computing teachers in schools have a relevant degree, leading to sub-par education of students and a drop off in the uptake of digital subjects such as the 40% plunge in students taking Computer Science GCSE between 2015 and 2021. Others point to a lack of diversity in the tech industry with only 19% women and 15% from ethnic minorities leading to an underutilisation of the available talent. Others still point toward the rapid acceleration of technology, saying that it can be overwhelming and confusing for people to decide which career paths to take and how to reach their career goals.

All of these factors play a part and the digital skills gap is looming over the industry and is affecting the majority if not all businesses to some extent.

In the last 12 years, the government has introduced a number of incentives and programmes to encourage students and young adults to gain digital skills in an attempt to  fill this gap..

The government introduced a £36 million fund in 2010 which aided in the teaching and studies of young adults to gain basic digital skills and encouraged them to seek further education in more advanced skills.

Furthermore, in 2017 the government introduced a levy which pushed large companies to either invest money back into their staff in the form of digital skills training and courses, or to take on new staff in the form of apprentices in digital positions.

B13 is grateful to have received very positive support from the technology and local entrepreneurial community as a whole and excited to be doing its part in helping to close the digital skills gap.

Since we started B13, we have recruited six people from the School of Code in non-coding yet digital skilled oriented positions such as product testers, business analysts and project managers. These were individuals who cross-trained in technology yet didn’t want to develop their skills in programming.

However, as another way to give back and promote people delving into careers in the technology sector, we are currently looking to work alongside WMCA (West Midland Combined Authority) to deliver intensive format workshops to get people into technology-oriented careers.

These workshops will be focusing on supporting roles such as designers, business analysts, project managers, user experience and testing to close the digital skills gap as well as facilitating the outsourcing of offshore development teams. This allows the workshop attendees to receive practical experience in managing and communicating with outsourced teams, enabling them to develop the practical skills to deliver the projects effectively.

We are communicating with the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Metropolitan College as well as Clare Streets from Post & Codes to deliver these workshops effectively and ensure attendees get the most out of their time participating.

Our ambition is to continue to keep supporting the local community, the tech community and budding professionals in the industry.

B13 Technology and the Innovation Behind its Success

B13 Technology is a UK based software development consultancy providing high quality, affordable services to help bridge the digital skills gap in the UK. Based out of Birmingham, B13 has already started making a name for itself by delivering fast, flexible and cost effective development solutions to UK App developers through its two primary approaches: Fixed Price development projects and Team Augmentation.

Both approaches help companies who have software development needs but don’t necessarily have the budget to internally hire or the knowledge to outsource external development teams. B13 takes time to understand a client’s goals and development objectives so they can then advise on the most cost-effective way to support delivery of it.

This process, managed by B13, enables either direct management and delivery of a project from specification through to delivery via a fixed price contract or to provide a tailored team of professional, pre-vetted and experienced developers from their Vietnamese based team, in Ho Chi Min City.

Before starting B13 Technology, our founder Tom previously worked with off-shore talent and realised how beneficial they were to fill the digital skill gap. Hiring full time, employed developers can be an extremely lengthy and expensive task when taking into consideration the hiring fees, salaries and time taken to find the perfect new colleague.

However, B13 Technology and its flexible approach means meeting digital project goals has never been easier.

Our process of scaling off-shore development talent in Vietnam to suit project requirements whilst they are managed by our UK-based team means clients are kept appraised of progress and projects are delivered to scope, time and budget. A team of UK based Business Analysts, Project Managers, User Experience Consultants, Testers and Product Designers oversee the entire project lifecycle.

Our approach means we have the ability to expand the capacity and capabilities of the team to ensure clients receive high-quality services that can be specifically tailored to meet ever changing business requirements.

This tried-and-true method has enabled businesses across the UK to hit their digital project goals consistently, allowing them to focus on their core business objectives.

With B13 Technology, you are in safe hands. We ensure you receive the highest quality attentiveness, our reliable team are here to work with you closely to guarantee speedy turnarounds and optimum productivity across the entire project lifecycle.

Author, Tom Howarth

Founder, B13 Technology