UK businesses miss out on vital STEM talent by only hiring locally

3D modelling, JavaScript development and Amazon Web Services listed as the most in-demand STEM skills for businesses

58% of UK businesses have “compromised on a hire” because they were unable to find quality science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent in their local area, according to a study by Upwork.

41% of business leaders surveyed by Upwork said they had compromised on hiring more than once, with 33% having restricted their talent search to their local area. This is despite 70% of hiring decision makers highlighting the importance of being able to find professionals with the STEM skills they need.

An absence of essential STEM skills were found to serious negative consequences for a business.

Being unable to innovate quickly (27%), being less productive (29%) and being unable to grow as fast (29%) were cited as the top impacts for businesses, followed by slower profit increases, not being able to produce products or services as quickly and being unable to attract the same level of talent.

3D modelling, JavaScript development and Amazon Web Services were listed as the top in-demand STEM skills for businesses, with C++ development, WordPress development and HTML5 development the next most desirable.

In June this year, a report from the Select Committee found that the UK’s digital skills crisis is damaging productivity and competitiveness with estimates that the skills shortage is costing the economy around £63bn a year.

Rich Pearson, senior vice president of marketing at Upwork, commented: “There is a mismatch between where the work is and where the workers with in-demand, hard-to-find skills are based. 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.”

Sotiris Eigemy, of Paradox SEO, added: “The decision to hire talent beyond a 30 or 40 mile radius of our head office was a turning point. We now hire workers with specialist STEM skills from multiple locations – be it the next county or another country. This approach has enabled us to seek out the very best talent in the market.”


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  1. It would be nice if companies offered to pay for transport or overnight stay to find the right talent for their business.