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Digital Skills Shortage?

The latest research by Chinwag Jobs, a U.K.-based recruitment website for digital media, reveals that with a limited talent pool to trawl, there are not enough 'big fish' to go around.

97% of respondents found it either difficult or impossible to attract suitably qualified digital staff for their businesses, with 76% reporting problems persuading staff to stick around once employed.

Chinwag's "Digital Skills Survey 07" canvassed employers, recruitment consultants and HR professionals. Whilst most businesses increased the number of staff working in digital positions (such as online marketing and web design) during 2007, it is increasingly difficult to recruit — and then retain — people with the right skills.

The most worrying finding, however, was that the dearth of candidates is hindering growth in 2008. 57% of respondents reported that the digital skills shortage had impeded the growth of their business in 2007, with 85% of companies expressing concern that the shortage would continue to have a negative impact on their business' growth this year.

When it comes to remuneration, the research uncovered a climate ripe for "wage inflation", as the law of supply and demand forces companies to pay for people with pedigree. Three-quarters of businesses revealed plans to increase the salaries of digital staff in 2008, although the companies having the most difficulty attracting staff were also the least likely to raise wages.

And with skills in short supply, it seems that more of the elusive digital experts are recognising their value and going freelance. The survey found that businesses were more reliant on freelance staff than in previous years — more than three-quarters of the organisations surveyed used contractual workers in 2007.

Sam Michel, Chinwag's managing director, comments: "These results show the pain of recruiting in 2007 gets worse in 2008. It's now actively affecting the growth prospects of a sector that is booming despite concerns about the wider economy. Employers must work harder to attract and retain quality staff, without resorting to the temptation of unsustainable wage levels".

He continues: "The digital sector desperately needs to improve career development opportunities and widen its net, with industry-wide initiatives to support internships and training programmes, and to encourage people with traditional skills to make the jump to digital".

A full summary of the survey results are on the Chinwag blog.