Talent supply remains the number one challenge facing digital tech businesses in the UK

We asked members of the UK’s digital tech community about the challenges they face when it comes to running and growing their businesses.

Over 50% highlighted a shortage of highly skilled employees.

In fact, nearly 25% described sourcing talent as a ‘major challenge’.

Challenges for Businesses % Challenges for Businesses
Skilled workers 55%
Finance 32%
Transport 29%
Awareness digital industry 28%
Property 28%
Retaining skilled workers 28%
Digital infrastructure 24%

Source: Tech Nation 2017 survey, Tech City UK


Lack of relevant industry experience is the primary recruitment challenge

Lack of relevant experience 45%
Difficukty targeting the right people 39%
Looking for more pay than we can offer 35%
Lack of time 23%
Lack of cultural fit 20%
Looking for better package 19%
Relocation/immigration difficulties 10%

Source: Tech Nation 2017 survey, Tech City UK


This skills shortage is beginning to be reflected in wage negotiations too. Over a third of digital tech businesses said that candidates are asking for more money than they can afford to pay.

Meanwhile, 10% of digital tech businesses cite relocation and immigration challenges as a factor in their struggle to recruit. To continue to grow, digital tech businesses highlight that they need to be able to recruit the brightest and best workers from the UK and elsewhere.

7% of workers in the UK’s digital tech economy are from non-EU nations, while 6% are from the EU (excluding Britain)

So, in total, some 13% of jobs in the digital tech sector are currently filled by international workers – up from 11% in 2011 and significantly higher than the 10% across the rest of the economy.

London and the South East has attracted a high proportion of these international digital tech workers. The capital’s digital tech economy is particularly international – EU workers hold 11% of jobs in London and non-EU nationals fill a higher proportion still at 20%.

To continue to grow, digital tech businesses need to be able to recruit the brightest and best workers from the UK and elsewhere.


Country EU, non-EU and UK workers in the digital tech economy
Non-EU Nation 7%
EU 6%
UK 87%

Source: Tech City UK & Nesta 2017


Women in the majority for only 11% of digital tech companies


% Female Proportion of Women in tech businesses
Over 75% Female 3%
51 – 75% Female 8%
26 – 50% Female 33%
0 – 25% Female 53%

Source: Tech Nation 2017 survey, Tech City UK


The current talent shortage could be significantly alleviated by encouraging more women into the digital tech sector.

Presently, women are severely under-represented. Our survey underscored the fact that UK digital tech companies rely on an overwhelmingly male workforce – women were in the majority for only one in nine (11%) digital tech companies. Indeed, in over half (53%) of these businesses, men outnumber women by at least 3:1.

Digital tech companies could do more to attract and retain women as well as to challenge stereotypes and cultural biases.

This is, of course, a highly complicated issue. Beyond this, however, lies a broader need to encourage women to embrace technology from a young age and to consider STEM careers.