Over half of UK technology firms are worried about losing key staff, as a combination of low numbers of skilled graduates emerging from university and schools and a brain drain abroad take their toll, according to research from insurance company Zurich.
The firm spoke to owner-managers mainly in the mid-market tech sector for its Technology Hazard Warning Report released on Tuesday. Some 57 per cent feared losing key staff, a figure which rose to 70 per cent in the £25m to £100m turnover bracket, explained Zurich's senior market underwriter, Geoff White.
"I would suggest all roles are experiencing problems at the moment. Key staff are attracted to opportunities overseas, which leads to a brain drain on the UK's talent," he told V3.
"We also know that less students are choosing to study technology-based A-Levels and degrees, which means the talent pool has shrunk for entry level positions."
To help combat the problems of recruiting and keeping the best staff, White recommended concentrating on remuneration packages and putting development plans in place to ensure that key staff feel valued.
The government also needs to play its part, not just in providing tax breaks to persuade companies to set up in the UK, or easing regulation to make it easier for firms to get up and running, but in providing additional training to encourage the "brightest and best" into the sector, according to White.
"This might take the form of additional subject availability, work placement or other opportunities," he continued.
"The technology sector is one of the key areas the government has identified to help lead us out of recession, so we need to ensure we are at the forefront of the global economy."
White added that it is especially important that more students choose technology degrees at university, as many of the UK's success stories of the past 30 years, such as ARM and Autonomy, have come from academic origins.
The acquisition of Autonomy and other UK success stories like it can be a poisoned chalice for the health of the tech sector in this country, argued White.
"Clearly it opens up the opportunities that a larger company brings, for example resources. An acquisition may make it easier to explore emerging markets such as China and India, especially if the acquiring company is based, or has existing relationships, in that country," he said.
"However, it also means that the company overseas gets the benefit of our expertise and possible revenue."
V3 will be running a series of features next week investigating the Tech City hub in London's Silicon Roundabout, in which the government has invested with the hope of nurturing the UK's finest technology start-ups.
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