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Lack of STEM skills causes firms to compromise hires

58% of firms have compromised on a hire because they couldn't find quality STEM talent in their area

This is according to research from freelance job and networking site Upwork.

The researchers found that despite 70% of hiring decision makers reporting that it is important to their business to be able to find professionals with the STEM skills they need, 33% of businesses still restrict their search for talent to their local area.

When lacking STEM skills, hiring managers reported not being able to innovate quickly (27%), being less productive (29%), and being unable to grow as quickly as they otherwise may have done (a further 29%).

Sotiris Spyrou, founder of search engine optimisation software Paradox SEO, explained that STEM skills are hugely important for business growth. “The decision to hire talent beyond a 30- or 40-mile radius of our head office was a turning point,” he said. “This approach has enabled us to seek out the very best talent in the market. Working with people remotely has required us to communicate with the team in a different way but it’s been a positive experience – we’ve seen an overall improvement in staff morale and productivity at the same time.”

Rich Pearson, senior vice president of marketing at Upwork, warned that organisations should not be restricting where they look for talent.

“There is a mismatch between where the work is and where the workers with in-demand, hard-to-find skills are based,” he said. “The battle for STEM talent is fierce enough on its own; when businesses limit the area in which they search for talent it only exacerbates the problem. More and more businesses are starting to see they have a viable option that closes that physical gap by expanding their search beyond their four walls; whether a London-based business is working with a data scientist in Winchester or Kiev, they’re able to get quality talent in the door more quickly and get more done as a result.”