Solving technical skills shortages by developing data talent in-house

Le Wagon is a Business Reporter client

Skills shortages is an issue that generates plenty of headlines. And it’s one that’s being exacerbated by the so-called Great Resignation, as employees look for fresh challenges in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yet one sector is suffering more than most. The demand for technical talent has never been higher, as organisations of all kinds seek to embrace digital and remote working, and gain vital insight from increasingly available data. This means demand has risen just as supply is dwindling.

This was the subject of a recent government publication, Quantifying the UK Data Skills Gap, which found that almost half of businesses (48 per cent) are currently recruiting for data roles. The most in-demand role is data analyst, with 12 per cent of businesses recruiting for this position. This is followed by head of data (10 per cent), data manager (9 per cent), chief technology officer (8 per cent) and data protection officer (8 per cent).

Yet recruiting talent is expensive, both in fees payable to recruiters and the salary itself, and in a fiercely competitive market there simply aren’t enough candidates to go round. The government report estimates the potential supply of data scientists from UK universities is likely to be around 10,000 a year, well short of the number of roles that are currently unfilled, estimated to be between 178,000 and 234,000. For business leaders, this poses the issue of just how to go about finding the talent they need so they can take advantage of the opportunities that stem from digital initiatives.

The solution to the skills shortage, though, may lie closer to home than many business owners realise. Investing and developing existing talent can not only help to build those vital skills, but can also make it less likely that employees will look to move to a competitor. Taking trusted individuals from other roles and providing them with the skills needed to head up or build an in-house web development, coding or data science team is an effective – and relatively low-cost – way of developing a pipeline of skills that will stand a business in good stead for years to come.

The good news is that workers themselves are open to the concept of reskilling. According to the government report, 70 per cent of those interviewed expressed an interest in acquiring data skills, and 46 per cent said the need for them to have such skills has increased in the past five years.

Technical skills bootcamp provider Le Wagon runs dedicated programmes to help organisations provide employees with the skills and experience they need. It offers two main programmes – web development and data science courses – and businesses can choose between full-time courses run over nine weeks or part-time study over 24 weeks, all held at its London base. To date, around 15,000 people have gone through the intense courses, across 45 campuses around the world.

Andrew Moffat, UK General Manager at Le Wagon, believes companies need to start thinking about taking a different approach to looking to hire ready-made talent. “Look inside your company,” he says. “You know there are superstars who are amazing at what they do and are skilled, ambitious and driven. Creating a learning path internally could save so much time and money compared with external recruitment, and will have a much greater impact on the business in the long run.”

To find out more about how Le Wagon could help you develop the skills you need, visit

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