Skills shortage biggest challenge facing new TechNorth hub

01 June 2015
  • A third (31%) of IT leaders believe that the availability of skilled workers will have the greatest impact on the development of the TechNorth hub
  • The majority (87%) would prioritise working with IT businesses in the TechNorth hub over TechCity London if this was a viable option
  • IT services will have the greatest impact on the growth of the UK tech industry as a whole, according to 41% of IT leaders

London, 1 June, 2015 – The availability of skilled workers will have the biggest impact on the success and development of the TechNorth hub, according to new research1 from Robert Half Technology.  A third (31%) believe skills will have the greatest effect, while other challenges include access to venture capital (cited by 27% of IT leaders), poor infrastructure/transport links (21%), the fact that TechNorth will be a cluster of cities rather than a single hub location (7%) and international appeal (7%). 

However, the technology skills shortage is not just an issue for TechNorth but is a nationwide challenge.  The research shows that the vast majority (96%) of IT leaders report that it is either somewhat or very challenging to find skilled technology professionals across the UK, while 89% are worried about losing their top tech performers to other job opportunities in the forthcoming year.  This will be no different for organisations in the TechNorth region, where an even higher percentage of companies (95%) say that they are concerned about losing their best tech professionals.

Yet despite the challenges identified by UK IT leaders, the majority (87%) also report that they would be highly or somewhat likely to prioritise working with IT businesses in the TechNorth hub over TechCity London if it was a viable option.  That figure rises to 100% for IT leaders based in the North and 95% of IT leaders in Scotland and falls only marginally in London and the South East to 80%, and 75% in the South West and Wales. 

IT leaders in private companies (94%) and those in medium sized companies (97%) are more likely to choose TechNorth over TechCity London than those in small and large companies (both 82%), publicly listed (79%) and public sector organisations (88%).

IT services companies, including cloud and security specialists, will have by far the greatest impact on the growth of the UK tech industry as a whole, according to 41% of IT leaders.  Other areas to impact future growth will be e-commerce (22%), data storage (17%), fintech (8%), artificial intelligence (4%), robotics (3%), bioscience (2%) and media technology (1%).

When selecting an IT services company to work with, more than four in 10 (41%) IT executives cite cost as the greatest consideration influencing their choice.  This is followed by service (27%), location (16%), size of business (6%), case studies (3%) and when the company was established (1%). 

The stated aim of TechNorth is to bring together pockets of excellence in technology industries across the North to form an internationally renowned virtual tech hub. It will co-ordinate the existing technology expertise of Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool with the North East tech cluster (Newcastle, Sunderland and the Tees Valley) to rival Berlin, New York and Shanghai.

Neil Owen, Director, Robert Half Technology, said: “The fact that IT leaders already see TechNorth as a viable source of IT services reflects the success of technology businesses in the region to date and the importance of the technology industry to the UK economy as a whole.

“Employers looking to build on that success need to prioritise the attraction, recruitment and retention of  the industry’s most skilled technology talent by offering competitive pay and benefits, remembering that along with financial remuneration, technical training, flexible working and new technology challenges are extremely important for IT professionals.  It will also be vital to act quickly when offering jobs to preferred candidates and to involve decision makers from the business early to avoid a protracted recruitment process.”

-Ends-

Notes to editors

1 The annual study was developed by Robert Half UK and is conducted by an independent research firm.  The study is based on more than 100 interviews with senior IT executives from companies across the UK, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location for companies across the UK and worldwide. For more information visit

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500 and #1 in our industry on FORTUNE® magazine’s “World's Most Admired Companies” list (2015). Founded in 1948, the company has over 340 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and job seeker resources at roberthalf.co.uk and twitter.com/roberthalfuk.