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Where are all the software developers? - Tech skills shortage worsens as hiring increases

November 19th 2014, London -- Almost six in ten UK technology hiring managers are experiencing a skills shortage that is holding their company back. This comes at a time when organisations are increasingly looking to grow their technology teams to capitalise on mobile, cloud and digital opportunities, despite nervousness about the economy.

This is according to the third Harvey Nash Technology Survey, polling the views of over 3,000 technology professionals across more than forty countries, which reports:

  • 45 per cent of UK companies are expecting to increase technology team headcount over the next year, up from 39 per cent last year
  • 58 per of UK hiring managers directly experiencing a skills shortage this year, up from 53 per cent last year
  • Software development cited as the most in demand skill set, however project management and business liaison skills also in demand
Whilst the skills shortage is widespread, all bar one of the regions of the UK registered at least half of hiring managers experiencing it, it is not evenly spread. East Anglia and Yorkshire registered the highest proportion of companies suffering from a skills shortage, whilst North-East England and South East England the least shortage. 

Regions / countries experiencing tech skills shortage:

East Anglia 76%
Yorkshire         70%
Midlands         63%
Scotland         61%
Greater London 58%
South West 56%
North West 55%
South East 51%
North East         35%
* Wales not shown due to sample size 

Perhaps, surprisingly, London was less affected by skills shortages, suggesting that while it has by far the highest concentration of companies competing for talent, its hub status also acts as a skills magnet. Over four in ten (43 per cent) of technology workers in London were born outside the UK, a proportion that no other UK region/country comes close to. 

Albert Ellis, CEO of Harvey Nash commented, "There is no doubt that digital is high on many CEO agendas', but what this survey shows is that finding the right talent is holding many companies back.   Clearly some of the challenge lies on the supply side, it is well established that we need to produce more IT graduates and make IT appealing to a wider group of people, especially women. However, there is also an argument that we, as an industry, need to look at the demand side. I was struck at a recent technology event by just how many comments were made encouraging hiring companies and recruitment consultancies alike to look beyond the CV. We need to begin a conversation around what really makes a technology professional successful, and that is more than simply ‘three years of Java development’”.

The Survey also polled technology professionals about what they look for in a new job. Seven out of ten technology professionals value work-life balance and being able to work on innovative projects as key factors in deciding their next job move, rating them well above all other factors, including remuneration.
Positive work / life balance                             69%
Opportunity to work on innovative projects     69%
Being a member of a valued team             60%
Well paid                                                     60%
Flexible working                                             54%
Working with exciting technologies             54%
Good opportunities to advance in my career     50%
Engaging with clients                                     35%
Prestige brand/company                             27%
Job title I can feel proud of                             26%

Albert Ellis, commented that, “many technology professionals have been working in a  ‘more for less’ environment ever since the beginning of the great recession. Now, many technology professionals are looking beyond the downturn and re-assessing what is core to them in their jobs. With an increasing demand for technology experts, hiring managers need to re-assess what they need to do to attract and retain their talent - and longer hours, even if it’s for more money, is not what they want.” 

The Survey also sheds new light on the evolving role and work habits of technologists:

  • Tech professionals are highly mobile: Almost one-third (30 per cent) of technology professionals do not work in the country where they were born. Switzerland has the highest proportion of technology workers who are working outside the country where they were born (59 per cent), while Australia and Germany also have more than 30 per cent of their technology workforce sourced from overseas. In the UK the figure is 26 per cent; London has the highest concentration of skilled technology migrants at 43 per cent. 
  • Tech professionals are entrepreneurial. More than half of all technology professionals (51per cent) have used their skills outside their normal day job for entrepreneurial purposes, either to build a business, create a start-up or innovate a new product. 
  • Tech professionals are logical and not interested in the lime light. Almost two-thirds of respondents (65 per cent) believe they are highly logic driven, while a majority consider themselves self-reliant and open to change. Only 14 per cent would portray their own personality as socially extroverted, preferring instead to rely on the strength of their work, rather than their words. 


About the research

(i) The Harvey Nash Technology Survey 2015 collected data between 1st August and 30th October 2014 and represents the views of 3,189 technology professionals in more than 40 countries. A wide range of technology professionals contributed, with a third of the respondents made up of Software Engineers, Technology Project Managers and Developers. A further nine per cent of respondents are senior (C-level) technology leaders.

(ii) For more information about the survey and to request a full copy of the results, please visit

Media Relations contacts: 
Rob Grimsey 
Group Marketing Director, Harvey Nash plc 
 +44 (0)20 7333 0033 

About Harvey Nash 
Established in 1988, Harvey Nash has helped over half the world's leading companies recruit, source and manage the highly skilled talent they need to succeed in an increasingly competitive, global and technology driven world. With over 7,000 experts in more than 40 offices across Europe, Asia and the USA, we have the reach and resources of a global organisation, whilst fostering a culture of innovation and agility that empowers our people across the world to respond to constantly changing client needs. We work with clients, both large and small, to deliver a portfolio of services: executive search, professional recruitment and offshore services. 

To learn more, please visit

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