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Why It’s So Hard To Find Technologists - The Current Demand Landscape

Today, asking “Are you struggling to find brilliant technologists” is like asking “is water wet?” Every business needs them, and ongoing skills shortages mean they are increasingly hard to find.

For people leaders, this means a constant headache trying to bring high performing digital talent into their business. So, we conducted research into the current demand landscape for technologists to help people leaders understand where tech talent is, and what they want.

Demand and salary

There has been continuous upward momentum in both the demand and the salaries for tech talent. The average salary quoted for jobs citing software engineer has risen by 4.6% from 2020, to £57,500. Salaries for these roles took a dip at the beginning of 2021, but have bounced right back to above 2020 figures.

And, as you’d expect, truly great top talent is even more expensive. The top 10% of talent are currently looking at salaries over £100k.

This is all because demand for these roles continues to rise. Demand has been steadily rising over the past 15 years, getting steeper and steeper over the last three years. In fact, the number of advertised roles for software engineers has almost doubled since this time last year and currently over 6% of all perm jobs advertised in the UK are for someone with development skills.

£57,500 Average salary for software engineer roles in 2021

The economic landscape

There has been a near continuous rise in the amount of UK business investment which is fuelling a highly competitive demand for talent. In 2020, there were 1,957 investments into UK businesses totalling £9.8 billion.

Investments like these - especially into startup and scaleup businesses - create very attractive opportunities for tech talent. In 2020, data showed 7,474 visible scaleups - a 37% jump year on year. 1,233 of these were technology scaleups who were actively hiring.

On top of this, £5.32b was invested into visible scaleups in 2019 and more scaleups are breaking £10m turnovers than ever before.

To attract tech talent away from opportunities like this, organisations will have to build incredibly attractive and authentic value propositions, built to rival fast-growing and innovative scaleups.

What does tech talent want?

When considering the proposition that you are offering to tech talent, it’s important to consider what tech talent actually wants. Our research has uncovered that 67% of tech talent wants a good work/life balance - the most popular demand. 50% also said they wanted roles to offer flexible working.

Aside from this, technologists also want work that challenges them, colleagues and culture that inspire employees to do their best.

Key insights summary:

There is an ongoing chronic skills shortage for technologists

The demand for technologists has steadily risen for the last 15 years, with a sharp rise in the past three. This is coupled with a digital skills shortage, starting at education-level - The Learning and Work Institute says the number of young people taking IT subjects at GCSE has dropped 40% since 2015. This widening gap between demand and supply pushes salaries higher. For example, salaries for software engineering skill sets have risen nearly 5% since last year.

The pandemic has done nothing to slow demand for technologists

The pandemic barely slowed the founding of and investment into startups and scaleups, outshining even the most optimistic predictions. By the end of 2020 there were 7,474 visible scaleups - a 37% jump year on year, with 250 more listed on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) than at the same time the year before. Excluding the future fund, there were 1,957 equity investments worth £9.8b made to startups and scaleups in 2020 in the UK.

Candidates are more demanding about what they want from a job

Whether it’s the legendary Google campus, innovative benefits or the early adoption of flexible working across most of the tech world, the industry has been one of the leaders in candidate and employee experience. Technologists have high expectations when it comes to employer value propositions, from the benefits package and remuneration all the way to the ethics and CSR of the business.

What does tech talent want?


Good work-life balance



Excellent compensation and benefits



Flexible work arrangements



Challenging work



Colleagues and culture that inspire employees to do their best



Convenient commute to work



Job security



Employees have influence over their tasks and priorities



Open and effective management



Investment in comprehensive and ongoing employee training



A company with a
purposeful mission


So, what have we learned?

Attracting tech talent to your business requires the creation of an irresistible proposition and a clearly defined attraction strategy to reach both active and passive candidates. One that rivals the dynamic tech startups and scaleups that offer tech talent exactly what they want.

To create a proposition and strategy that attracts and retains the best tech talent you need start by understanding what makes you authentic, relevant, different, and inspiring as an employer. Once you understand what you stand for as an employer you should identify the right channels to reach your target audience with your story. Ask yourself:

  • Do you know why technologists love working at your company?

  • Do you know how your company is perceived by technologists?

  • Do you know how you’re different from your business and talent competitors?

  • Do you know what part technology plays in delivering your business vision and strategy?

  • Do you know how your current attraction strategy is performing?

  • Do you know if you’re reaching both active and passive candidates in your attraction strategy?

  • Are you delivering on the promises you make when attracting talent?

If you’re struggling to find the answers to these questions, then get in touch with the Caraffi experts who can help you articulate a unique and authentic proposition and deliver on that promise at every stage in a technologists journey with you.

Cara Goodier-Dodson – Carrafi

Research sources and further reading: