Tech Talent Shortage: How Contract Workers Can Fill the Gap

7 min

AI, ML, software, and innovative tech are expected to develop rapidly, but the major issue is the shortage of skilled workers, impacting the prospect of future progression. Despite efforts by educational systems, the fast pace of the tech industry creates a global skills gap affecting countless businesses. Factors like the great resignation, ongoing pandemic effects, and tech advancements worsen this challenge.

Over the last decade, this shortage has affected various tech areas, like software development, data science, cybersecurity, and cloud computing, impacting most businesses. This leads to slower growth, higher hiring costs, project delays, and potential security risks.

However, a potential solution exists: hiring contract workers with the needed tech skills. This guide examines the impact of the talent shortage and how contracting skilled workers can help businesses progress and stay competitive while avoiding project delays.

What are the Implications of a Tech Talent Shortage?

The tech industry, known for its innovation, is vital to societal growth. Unlike many other sectors affected by recent economic challenges and facing a reduction in job opportunities, the tech field anticipates a rise in available positions over the next decade. However, the industry faces a shortage due to insufficient highly skilled individuals to fill these roles and meet the growing demand.

Projections suggest that by 2030, there could be up to 85 million unfilled jobs, with a substantial gap in tech talent. Society's increasing reliance on technological advancements, such as AI and intelligent technologies in daily life, clinical trials, and medical equipment, has created a demand for skilled professionals. Yet, the industry is struggling to keep up with the growing need for talent capable of coordinating, designing, building, and working with these evolving technologies.

In 2023, 54% of organisations worldwide experienced a tech skills shortage. But what does this tech talent shortage mean for the industry and society?

  • Outstanding Projects: A decrease in tech talent may lead to delays and even the abandonment of essential projects due to a lack of skilled professionals to see them through to completion. Delayed or unfinished projects may impact other organisational areas relying on digital transformation. 
  • Overburdened Existing Staff: Existing staff may find themselves overworked as they attempt to compensate for the shortage, potentially leading to burnout, decreased productivity, and a decline in overall work quality.
  • Technological Delays: The shortage could prevent organisations from staying current with advancing technologies critical for organisational and industrial progression. This lag may delay innovation and competitiveness in organisations and the whole sector.
  • Increased Costs: The demand for tech professionals may increase costs associated with hiring and training permanent staff. As these individuals know their in-demand value in the market, business costs may increase with demand. 
  • Cybersecurity Risks: A shortage of skilled professionals may expose organisations to increased cybersecurity risks. The inability to acquire staff cybersecurity positions could leave systems vulnerable to potential threats and breaches. Depending on the organisation, these breaches could be incredibly damaging.

Not having sufficient tech professionals can prevent development, but the lack of technology skills can also hinder ongoing projects and risk the security of sensitive information. No matter the sector, a tech talent shortage has high implications, so businesses need cost-effective and timely access to as many skilled professionals as possible. 

How Recruiting Contract Workers Can Fill This Gap

Recruiting contract workers offers an immediate solution to the pressing need for skilled tech professionals, helping bridge the gap in the UK's tech sector. Despite concerns raised by the IR35 tax legislation implemented in 2021, which has led some organisations to be cautious about hiring contractors due to tax classification rules, the demand for professional tech support remains high.

In areas like machine learning and artificial intelligence, where growth is rapid, and with an estimated 55,000 unfilled IT openings, businesses are exploring alternative employment methods to meet their needs. Contract workers can provide valuable assistance to tech sectors facing staffing shortages in the UK. Let's explore how recruiting contract workers can help organisations in the UK cope with the ongoing tech shortage.

Immediate Support 

Contractors offer immediate expertise, skipping extensive onboarding and training, saving valuable project time. Their focused dedication ensures faster progress, as they fully commit to specific projects without the distractions of full-time employee responsibilities. 

Their flexible working arrangements enable quick adaptation to project demands and efficiently meeting deadlines. With a proven track record of meeting deadlines and delivering results on time and within budget, contractors can provide quick tech assistance to businesses. 

Contractors integrate into teams and contribute effectively from day one, offering immediate support by swiftly resolving technical issues, expediting feature development, providing valuable feedback on code quality, and facilitating knowledge sharing and training within the team.

While tech contractors all offer different skills depending on their previous experience and industry area, contractors' expertise can generally be utilised in specific areas such as:

  • Bug fixes and troubleshooting: Contractors swiftly identify and address technical issues, ensuring smooth project progress.
  • Feature development: Skilled contractors rapidly build and implement specific features needed within the project, accelerating overall development.
  • Code reviews and audits: Experienced contractors offer timely feedback on code quality and potential issues, resulting in cleaner code and fewer rework needs.
  • Knowledge sharing and training: Contractors share their expertise with the team, fostering knowledge transfer and improving the team's technical capabilities, ultimately enhancing project efficiency.

As the ongoing tech talent shortage remains a significant barrier to adopting emerging technologies, many organisations are turning to contractors to provide immediate support and overcome this challenge.

According to a recent Gartner survey of IT executives, 64% believe the ongoing tech talent shortage is the most significant barrier to adopting emerging technologies. Experienced tech contractors assist towards successful project completion during a period of demand. 

Bringing specialised skills 

Contractors bring specialised skills for emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning, blockchain, and cyber security. Their expertise fills crucial gaps where permanent talent may lag due to rapid advancements. Additionally, contractors excel in programming languages essential for most tech projects, including Python, React, or Go, enhancing project teams' capabilities. 

Experienced contractors provide domain-specific specialist knowledge in healthcare, finance, or manufacturing, ensuring projects are executed efficiently and comply with industry standards. This makes them incredibly useful for supporting ongoing or developing projects. 

Yet, how do tech contractors attain the necessary skills during a tech skill shortage? Let’s discuss this. 

Flexible Learning Opportunities

Having functioned in diverse workforces, contract workers can transfer their knowledge and skills from one organisation to another. Unlike full-time employees, who often progress in their skill set only through employer-driven initiatives, contract professionals operating on short-term engagements aligned with project needs have more opportunities to acquire new skills.

Flexibility and Varied Experiences

Skilled tech contractors are drawn to the flexibility offered by short-term engagements, allowing them to work on diverse projects. Their entrepreneurial mindset, seeking autonomy, empowers them to select projects aligned with their expertise. This flexibility appeals to those pursuing varied experiences, contributing to the availability of skilled contract workers despite the ongoing talent shortage.

Project-Specific Focus

Tech contractors typically possess specialised skills tailored to specific projects or emerging technologies. They become valuable assets for short-term, technical assignments by concentrating on honing these skills. Their adaptability and experience make them well-suited for projects that may demand expertise not readily found among full-time employees.

Preference for Dynamic Career Paths

Certain tech professionals prefer dynamic career paths that combine full-time and contract work. Contracting allows them to leverage their skills across various organisations and industries without committing to long-term positions. This inclination for diverse experiences contributes to the pool of skilled tech talent available through contract recruitment, bridging the gap in the global talent shortage.

Innovative New Perspectives 

The tech talent shortage has resulted in trouble for progress and the generation of new ideas. Tech professionals are typically incredibly creative, designing and creating solutions for societal issues that integrate successfully into our daily lives. 

Diverse Backgrounds and Experiences

Contract workers bring diverse backgrounds and experiences from various industries, companies, and projects. This diversity improves problem-solving by introducing a more comprehensive range of perspectives and approaches. By challenging existing assumptions within your team, contractors can spark innovation and drive creative solutions to complex problems.

Exposure to New Technologies and Trends

Tech contractors typically work across various organisations and remain current on emerging technologies and industry trends. This enables them to introduce innovative solutions and approaches your team may not have encountered, injecting fresh ideas into your projects.

Unbiased Viewpoints

Due to their outsider status within your organisation, tech contractors often provide unbiased viewpoints. Their objective perspective allows them to identify areas for improvement that your team, heavily involved in day-to-day operations, might overlook. Contractors can pose challenging questions and propose alternative solutions that may not have been considered otherwise.

Flexibility Surrounding Talent Trends 

One significant advantage of recruiting contract professionals is their flexibility. While typically, their contracts are short-based around the life cycle of a project, retaining a steady pipeline of contract workers with the right skills and industry experience can provide a flexible workforce that you can scale depending on organisational talent needs. 

The ability to recruit contract professionals flexibly in line with project demands means that your outgoing costs will only apply when needed. Unlike FTEs, your outgoing expenses are reduced when there are no projects. In a recent study, the Economic Forum predicted that by 2025, 41% of organisations plan to expand their use of contractors, presenting how useful contractors and their skills already are throughout various industries. 

The Power of Networks

Considering the current tech environment and predicting a continued talent shortage, hiring contract workers isn't just about filling short-term needs. It's about building a strong talent pool that your organisation can utilise during uncertain talent supply fluctuations. 

Contract workers operate within vibrant professional networks, connecting you with skilled professionals across various tech domains. By establishing a positive rapport with your initial contract worker, you gain access to this network. They become trusted advisors, recommending qualified individuals for future projects tailored to your needs. 

Whether it's a cyber security expert or a cloud computing specialist, tapping into your contract worker's network can expedite talent acquisition, saving valuable time and effort. This means that in periods of turbulence, typically related to the tech talent shortage, your previous relationships with contractors will allow you to tailor your tech recruitment to staff shortages, still allowing you to complete projects and receive the desired tech support. 

Bridging the Tech Gap: The Crucial Role of Contract Workers

The combination of increased reliance on technology, the aftermath of COVID-19, and the great resignation has intensified the tech talent shortage. This shortage stunts the development of groundbreaking technologies and poses risks to ongoing projects and the security of sensitive information. The implications are profound across sectors, emphasising the urgent need for businesses to gain cost-effective and timely access to skilled professionals.

Recruiting contract workers emerges as a strategic solution, offering immediate support, specialised skills, and a flexible workforce. The tech industry, marked by its innovation, is witnessing increased demand for qualified professionals to bridge the talent gap, especially in high-growth areas like machine learning and artificial intelligence. Contract professionals provide various benefits, including access to a new talent pool, innovative perspectives, and flexibility surrounding talent trends.

If you want to discover more about how contract tech talent can benefit your organisation overall, find our guide on the Top 5 Benefits of Hiring Contract Tech Talent for Your Business. Your journey to overcoming the tech talent shortage and embracing the advantages of a flexible, skilled workforce begins here.

Experts in Contract Recruitment 

Our specialist consultants are committed to connecting top organisations with qualified contract professionals. We understand the impact of the tech talent shortage on most businesses seeking digital transformation, which is why we personalise the recruitment process to meet your hiring needs. 

No matter your industry, we can match you with contract professionals who can assist your business development. 

Contact us today and discover our tailored services, insightful resources, and our impact.