Sparta Global survey: Brexit and the digital skills gap


by David Rai, Sparta Global CEO

In little more than a year the UK will officially leave the European Union (EU). Negotiations have so far done little to minimise concerns around the impact of Brexit on the country’s digital skills gap and how we access new technology talent.

Bridging the gap

Digital skills are essential for gaining access to a range of products and services, yet there is a digital divide where up to 12.6 million of the adult UK population lack basic digital skills. An estimated 5.8 million people have never even used the internet. This digital skills gap is costing the UK economy an estimated £63 billion a year in lost additional GDP, presenting itself at all stages in the education and training pipeline, from schools to the workplace.

According to our latest survey of leading technology professionals  - representing the technology, finance, media, retail, public sector, charity and law industry – organisations are continuing to suffer from skills gaps at all levels, revealing skill shortages at graduate level (38%), mid-level (55%) and management level (38).

Software development was identified by 52% of respondents as a missing skill, making it the most sought after area of expertise. 40% recognised a gap in test automation skills, DevOps (38%), BA/PMO (19%) and manual testing (16%).

The Brexit effect

In a post-Brexit future, the inability to import qualified workers from outside of the UK - to bridge the country’s skills gap - will pose a danger to the UK’s future as a competitive place to set up a technology business or base a European hub. Almost half of the survey respondents claim Brexit has already reduced access to talent from outside the UK, while one in four contractors with a non-UK passport admitted that the threat of more immigration restrictions had influenced their decision to leave the UK.

As we edge closer to leaving the EU it is crucial to address the way UK tech talent is cultivated. Only urgent action from industry, teaching establishments and the Government can prevent this skills crisis from damaging the UK’s productivity and economic competitiveness.

A ready-made solution

The pace of change in technology is difficult to predict – and even harder to keep up with. School and university curriculums do not have the ability to change and adapt to new techniques and processes as quickly as they are introduced. Even the best technology and IT graduates can leave university without the practical skills they need to hit the ground running on-site. 

Our specialist training academies offer something more. Sparta Global’s unique business model brings improvements to the vocational training of software engineers, bridging the skills gap between education and the workplace for graduates. In just a few short months our bootcamp-style training courses can teach students practical skills that may otherwise take years of university schooling.

After building up the necessary skillset, our freshly-trained consultants are introduced to work with our client partners; helping them to further grow and learn in the workplace and find real solutions to real problems. Our Sparta training academies are a resource that is available now and will allow the UK to nurture the talent that is already available in the UK, making moves to bridge the digital skills gap before it’s too late.


Industries surveyed: Technology (53%). Financial/Banking (17%). Media (7%). Other (7%). Retail (6%). Public Sector (5%). Charity (2%). Law (1%). Locations throughout the UK.

Roles surveyed: Other (47%). Head of Test, Talent Partner, IT Systems Manager, Senior Test Lead, Technology Recruitment Manager, Testing/QA Manager (24%). Programme/Project Manager (16%).  Head of Software Development (8%). CIO/CTO (6%).