The combination of IT skills shortages and increasing talent demands could scupper business growth unless closer ties are formed between students and industry leaders. With recent reports from the recruitment industry’s trade body, the REC, indicating a 64% growth in demand for temporary IT experts and 69% for permanent professionals, the sector is reaching a critical point in terms of skills gaps.

In an industry that has historically faced a lack of emerging talent, the limited candidate pool will be unable to meet growing demand in light of increasing economic positivity.

This talent shortage will be further exacerbated as market confidence drives more recruitment activity. According to the CBI, UK organisations are taking on more people and optimism is at its highest level since 1998. However, the business lobby group also reported that companies are struggling to source talent.

These reports are in line with a recent survey which revealed a gap between workload and resources. In the survey of 1,500 director level professionals, there was a clear gap between predicted workload over the next year and the capacity of current resources.

While the majority of those surveyed (77%) expect to see an increase in workload over the next twelve months, 52% of directors do not feel they have the capacity to increase output with current staffing levels.

Competition for top IT talent has been rife for many years, but as demand continues to rapidly increase it’s likely we’ll soon reach a pivotal point in the looming skills gap that has long plagued the sector. There has often been talk of addressing the low levels of school leavers entering the industry, but with little evidence of this, it appears we will soon be at a crisis point in talent shortages.

There’s clearly a level of disconnect between students studying the subject and businesses that seek these professionals. Where many organisations are focusing attention on attracting senior level IT experts, those entering the industry can find themselves struggling to secure the best position to help develop their skills and get onto the career ladder.

What we need is greater engagement with potential talent at an earlier age to encourage them into this profession. Indeed, the CBI has acknowledged that more needs to be done to attract the emerging generation, with recent suggestions outlining a potential reduction of tuition fees for STEM subjects. Perhaps, in order to address this, businesses need to be refocusing efforts to engage with students that have yet to decide their career path.