It’s no secret that the UK is grappling with a severe skills shortage. Job vacancies across a number of industries are surging, with numbers meeting – and in cases even surpassing – the available workforce.
Alongside well-documented shortfalls within Britain’s health and transport sectors, tech talent is also running dangerously low, while demand remains notably high: a high that is expected to stick around for some time.
With competition within an already constrained talent pool heightened, it’s time for a new strategy.
Looking beyond the UK’s borders
The first, most obvious, strategic approach that comes to most people’s minds is to outsource your IT projects. Delegating a specific technology-related task or project to an external service provider typically reduces costs and enhances efficiency.
Those in the startup stage in particular have found significant advantages in opting for the consultant route over hiring in-house: from avoiding the hefty financial weight of onboarding internally, to driving innovation at pace, or accessing best-in-class talent that can give you a standing start.
There is also a significant time advantage that outsourcing offers, particularly in the context of assembling a software development or technical team. When you opt for traditional hiring practices, such as bringing permanent employees on site in the UK, the process can be quite time-consuming. It typically takes three to six months to complete the cycle, which includes serving notice periods, recruiting, selection, and onboarding. For startups and businesses with innovative ideas, this time frame can be a hindrance, as it delays their ability to start delivering results and making progress.
With outsourcing, on the other hand, you can essentially acquire a pre-assembled team within a month to a month and a half. This rapid team deployment is a distinct advantage for businesses that require immediate access to talent and the capability to execute their projects promptly, which is often critical in highly competitive markets with unique and time-sensitive opportunities.
While the pros of outsourcing are certainly clear, the demand in the UK is still spiralling, making this avenue sometimes just as challenging as hiring in-house. As such, businesses have increasingly turned to a wider international talent pool to help solve their talent needs – and it’s Ukrainian developer talent that’s quickly becoming viewed as some of the best in the world.
The UK is a magnet for global talent, generating innovative ideas and business strategies, especially in the tech sector. Countries like Ukraine, where domestic demand for tech talent is not as high, offer a valuable opportunity to match business innovation with technological expertise.
The Ukrainian labour market is also predominantly export-oriented, meaning that tech professionals are accustomed to working with international clients and standards. In fact, many IT professionals in Ukraine begin working for Western clients from an early stage in their careers, exposing them to corporate cultures, ethics, and quality expectations. As a country, there is also a strong emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education, which encompasses a range of disciplines that form the foundation for many technological advancements and innovations.
Another huge advantage for British businesses – especially those resorting to raising in-house wages to retain talent – is cost effectiveness. The cost of employing skilled Ukrainian tech professionals is often lower, mainly because the cost of living in Ukraine is lower than the UK. This ensures that even smaller UK businesses have access to talent that is on par with larger competitors.
The fact that many Ukrainian IT experts are fluent in English also appeals, as does the strong work ethic they have become known for. And this is all despite challenging conditions, including political and economic instability. The resilience demonstrated by Ukrainian developers, particularly during times of conflict, has been profound, earning trust and respect from their partners, including the UK.
How to choose a vendor
With all of this in mind, there are a growing number of businesses considering outsourcing talent. At this point, there are several factors to consider when choosing a vendor.
The size of the vendor should align with the project’s scope; you want to know your project size and business need will be enough of the priority to your vendor.
Overheads must be clearly defined to ensure a smooth working relationship.
While outsourcing cuts costs, if the intent is only to cut costs, there must be a very specific organisational transformation on the business side to enable this sort of relationship. Traditionally though, outsourcing is about proper delegation between the businesses and delegation is a skill not everyone possesses.
Factors such as time zones, cultural differences, and the depth of relationships with both the vendor and the team are critical to success.
Choosing a vendor should be a well-informed decision, considering the vendor’s communication style, execution capabilities, and advisory role.
It’s important to note that the UK will need to focus on tech project management skills to effectively collaborate with outsourcers, as the demand for such skills is set to rise.
Remember – investing in the right vendor is essential to avoid disappointment in the long run.
The UK’s strength lies in its diversity of successful industries, and tech is just one of many. With the talent shortage strain lifted, the UK can focus on creating startups, developing tech, and exploring innovative ideas that can transform lives worldwide. However, it’s clear that outsourcing IT projects to talent-rich destinations like Ukraine is not just a response to the talent shortage; it’s a strategic move for businesses who want to thrive in what is an increasingly digital age.
With a high concentration of intelligence and innovation, the UK will only create more businesses that require digitalisation. And it is this approach that is redefining the perception of how businesses work with tech outsourcers. For me, the UK and Ukraine have a special symbiotic relationship that presents great opportunities for growth, innovation, and global collaboration.