Digital skills, skills gap, laptop

By Mike Rhodes, CEO of ConsultMyApp

Earlier this year, the UK tech industry was valued at £1 trillion, a significant milestone that only the US and China have previously reached.

In fact, following record levels of venture capital investment, the UK tech industry is now home to thirteen decacorns – businesses valued at $10 billion or more – putting the value of the UK market at more than double that of Germany and nearly five times greater than France and Sweden.

Yet, despite this staggering boom, the UK’s problematic tech talent shortage is threatening to stifle this impressive growth. With a recent report from Tech Nation finding that there were more than two million job vacancies in the tech sector last year – more than any other labour industry – the fight to rapidly upskill and attract more diverse talent with the right digital skills has never been more critical.

The UK’s digital skills gap is an issue that has been recognised and widely discussed for several years – maybe even decades. Yet, despite efforts to date, from both the government and private sector, the rift between supply and demand for specialist skills in the economy continues to grow.

Businesses of all sizes are now desperately scrambling to secure talent, but there are simply not enough people at present with the relevant skills to fill the overwhelming number of tech vacancies. Clearly a creative solution is needed to urgently fill these roles and upskill talent, and naturally, this starts with the younger generation – encouraging young people with natural aptitudes and early exposure to technology into the sector.

So, how do you encourage young people with non-technical skills or graduates with a degree in say, History or English, to enter a career in coding?

That is the big question – but this is where low-code and no-code trends step in, offering an accessible entry point for those who are less mathematically or algorithmically advanced or experienced – a factor putting many off from specialising their skill set for lucrative software roles.

The idea of software development can be intimidating to many, particularly those with more creative and less technical skill sets. However, these low code and no code platforms lower the entry barriers, allowing users to build software using a simple and user friendly toolkit approach as opposed to creating software from scratch. With platforms like these, those straight out of school and graduates with minimal digital skills can learn to code with a platform that automates and streamlines the more technical development process.

Learning to code is not easy to master and there is no quick fix, however, the low-code no-code approach enables greater inclusion for all keen to get into a career in software development without a highly skilled background or training. Instead of spending years studying programming languages and constantly needing to keep up to date with the latest frameworks, the whole software development process can be reduced to a series of easy steps including drag-and-drop editors and code generators.

And companies are benefiting too. In fact, low-code and no-code trends have been on the rise in recent years, particularly during the pandemic, to fill the need for rapid digital transformation amidst limited developer availability. We’re now witnessing companies turning more and more often to low-code and no-code solutions to rectify the imbalance between the ever-growing demand for software development and the shortage of skilled developers currently in the market.

This is because no-code and low-code solutions speed up the development process and allow those with very little experience to take advantage of the technology and quickly build applications, without having to be a programming expert.

In short, low-code and no-code approaches are mutually beneficial to corporations and young aspiring talent alike. School and university graduates are able to step into the world of software development without any experience, filling the ever-growing digital skills gap we are currently faced with. And, corporations can take an idea and use minimal resources to launch it very quickly and at little additional cost for training.

Still, there are of course many questions being asked as to whether these trends will replace the need for highly skilled Software Engineers altogether. The answer is no – there will always be a need for Software Engineers, algorithmic mathematicians and people who truly understand code. It’s also important to remember that low-code and no-code approaches don’t suit every industry. For example, these approaches to development may fit nicely with apps that have simpler functionality – for instance shopping apps – but apps that demand high-performance or contain sophisticated features with high interaction, such as games or stock trading apps, are always going to require a build-from-the-bottom approach to be successful.

However, lowering the entry barrier where super technical backgrounds are not required, can only be a good thing as ultimately, it will provide faster and more efficient deployment of applications and help to plug the enormous tech talent shortage.

In summary, with research from Gartner predicting that there will be four times as many low-code no-code developers working in large enterprises than professional developers by 2023, these trends will inevitably only become more prevalent as businesses think creatively about filling the talent gap. Low-code and no-code solutions will definitely be instrumental in helping to bridge the gap, opening up the field to aspiring talent without the training or background in coding, and the key to bolstering the UK’s recent growth in the tech sector.

About the author

Mike RhodesMike Rhodes is an award-winning consultancy manager and the founding director of ConsultMyApp (CMA), one of the world’s leading global app marketing companies. His ethos for the company is simple – to make every App they work with the best it can be.

Now employing over 30 expert consultants, ConsultMyApp has rapidly grown to prominence under Mike’s leadership, despite not being supported by any external funding models or VCs. ConsultMyApp is currently driving the digital evolution of some of the world’s top brands – including King.com, Pure Gym, O2 and Deliveroo – through end-to-end app marketing.