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March 29, 2017

Cloud skills hit by gender gap as UK companies struggle to find talent

Gender gap is unlikely to disappear until 2186.

By Hannah Williams

UK companies tend to suffer from a cloud skills gender gap, which could harm businesses as firms develop digital transformation projects, according to a Microsoft report.

The Microsoft Cloud Skills Report comes just months after the company released separate research which found that nearly half of UK bosses believe they must embrace digital transformation, or their company may fail within the next five years.

Its latest report shows that 83 percent believe cloud skills to be important or critical to their organisation, with almost a third actively seeking to recruit employees with these skills. However, 38 percent have found it difficult to do so.

skillsCindy Rose, Chief Executive, Microsoft UK, told the Microsoft Tech Summit in Birmingham: “According to the Hays Global Skills Index, last year marked the fifth consecutive year of a rising UK skills shortage, particularly in the technical engineering and specialist technology roles into which cloud skills fall.”

The survey also found that on average, the gender mix among teams consists of 80 percent male and 20 percent female. From this, a fifth of firms that employ between 250 and 999 staff members have no female IT workers at all.

Read more: Gender equality in the tech sector: it’s time to be bold

Worryingly, 35 percent said they have no play to change this imbalance. The low numbers of women in IT roles sits alongside the above figures that show technical leaders believe cloud computing skills are critical to the organisation.

Rose said: “Central to any overhaul has to be a focus on women. Missing out on diverse and female talent is certainly a well-known problem facing our industry but it is only exacerbated when we are already facing a labour shortage- and one that may be about to get worse if Brexit brings limits to immigrations.

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“Companies need to develop plans to bring more women into the IT workforce so they can take advantage of these benefits. It is important for the future IT skills base of the country that this becomes the new normal. The need for change is clear.”

However, a previous report from the World Economic Forum last year found that the gender gap is unlikely to disappear until 2186.

Microsoft, for one is playing a part in addressing this gap as it launches a new digital skills programme, with promises to train 30,000 public servants for free. It also reveals plans to launch a Cloud Skills Initiative to train 500,000 people in the UK in advanced cloud technology skills by 2020.


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