UK businesses are feeling the strain of the digital skills gap which is directly affecting productivity, according to IT skills and certifications body CompTIA.
The International Technology Adoption and Workforce Trends Study published by CompTIA found that 45 percent of 1,507 IT executives are experiencing an "excessive" shortfall in IT talent, despite 28 percent having plans to hire more IT staff this year.
Another 46 percent indicated that they are concerned about being able to find staff with the right skills and experience to fill job openings.
A further 44 percent of respondents said that the skills gap is having an effect on staff productivity, while 27 percent said that talent shortages have slowed their speed to market, and 26 percent have seen a detrimental effect on product development and innovation.
The severity of the UK's digital skills gap prompted BT to call for more businesses to offer IT apprenticeships and training for school children.
Rob Partridge, head of BT's Security Academy, said the study proves that UK IT companies are struggling to fill job vacancies with suitable candidates.
"We believe the IT industry seriously needs to consider looking beyond university degrees and attracting and developing talent through vocational qualifications, new forms of online learning and apprenticeships," he said.
Despite these prevailing concerns, over half of the respondents see the skills situation having improved moderately for their business.
Some 55 percent said they are where they want to be, or are seeing IT skills improving in their business, compared with 48 percent in a study two years earlier.
Estelle Johannes, CompTIA's UK director for member communities, explained that the skills gap remains a challenge and requires attention if it is going to be closed.
"The impact of the skills gap threatens the livelihood of businesses across the country, from information security to customer service, and more needs to be done to tackle this growing problem," she said.
"But building and managing talent requires a concerted effort, resources and time. There is rarely a quick fix when addressing skills gaps."
Sourcing talent could be a case of looking beyond formal IT skills and qualifications, such as conducting hackathons to find amateur cyber security skills or running startup incubators to get more young people into the technology industry.
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