Flexible working, AI and skills-based hiring: The three factors set to shape the tech sector in 2024

  • Majority of tech professionals work in either a hybrid (43%) or fully remote (42%) way 
  • Three in five (60%) of tech professionals would not consider accepting a job offer that didn’t allow hybrid working, compared to 43% of professionals overall 
  • Over a third (38%) of tech professionals have used AI tools in their current role
  • Over a third (38%) of tech employers say it’s not important that a job applicant has a degree

The world of work has witnessed several shifts in the last 12 months, prompting debates around returning to the office versus flexible working, the risks and rewards of embracing AI, and whether degrees are losing their importance in an era of skills-based hiring. 

According to new research released by leading specialist in workforce solutions and recruitment, Hays, flexible working patterns continue to be the norm for tech professionals, as 43% currently work in a hybrid way, closely followed by 42% who are based fully remotely. 


Flexible working still highly sought after across tech

The research, based on a survey of nearly 15,000 professionals and employers including over 1,350 respondents within the tech sector, reveals that only 15% of tech professionals are based fully in the office. In stark comparison, 43% of professionals across the UK report being based solely in the workplace. 

As it stands, the majority (73%) of tech employers offer hybrid working to their staff and 68% anticipate that their hybrid working offering will stay the same over the next 12 months. However, just over a quarter (26%) of tech employers predict their staff will be required in the office more often.

Looking to the year ahead, 41% of professionals working across tech plan to find a role that is more of a mix of hybrid and 40% intend to secure a position that is fully remote. Only 7% plan to find a role that is based fully in the office. 

Six out of 10 tech professionals say they would not consider accepting a job in the future that didn’t offer hybrid working, versus 40% who would, whereas over half (57%) of UK workers overall say they would accept a job in the future if it didn’t offer hybrid working. 


AI use higher in tech than UK workers  

Whilst AI is still a relatively new phenomenon in the workplace, more than a third (38%) of tech professionals have used AI tools in their current role, notably higher than the number of professionals overall who have used AI in their position – only one in five (20%). 

Attitudes towards AI within the tech industry are somewhat optimistic; whilst only a quarter (25%) of professionals overall think AI tools will have a positive impact on their job, 45% of tech professionals are confident AI will positively affect their role. That being said, nearly a quarter (23%) of tech professionals are unsure how AI might impact their role, whereas the same number of tech staff (23%) believe AI won’t affect their role at all. 

Positively, most (74%) tech professionals believe they have the right tools to utilise AI, in comparison to 52% of professionals overall who believe their skills are up to scratch. However, over half (54%) of professionals working across tech say their employer is not helping to prepare them for the use of AI in the workplace. 

In terms of AI uptake and usage in the year ahead, over two thirds (68%) of tech employers intend to allow staff to use AI tools in the future but will monitor usage, followed by 20% who will allow unmonitored usage. On the other hand, 7% plan to ban tools and 5% already have implemented a ban. 


Skills could trump degrees in new hiring era

When it comes to skills-based hiring, whilst 19% of those in charge of hiring tech professionals believe a degree is very important, 43% say a degree is quite important but not essential, and over a third (38%) say it’s not important at all. 

Most (78%) tech employers say they are likely to hire a professional who does not possess all the required skills, with the intention of upskilling them. On top of this, almost three-quarters (75%) of employers believe an employee’s willingness to learn is more important than their existing skillset. 

James Hallahan, Chief Strategy Officer at Hays, comments: “Despite a widespread return-to-office push in recent months, our research demonstrates that tech professionals are holding on to the draw of flexible working. In order to attract and retain talent in the year ahead, employers ought to acknowledge the ongoing appeal of this flexibility. 

Although there is a continued sense of uncertainty towards the role AI could play across the tech landscape, it’s promising to see that many tech employees feel equipped with the right skills to make the best use of AI. There is still room for improvement, however, when it comes to employers upskilling their staff to keep up with the pace of change in our ever-evolving digital age. 

It’s clear that hiring managers are becoming more open-minded and willing to welcome on board a diverse range of tech professionals regardless of their educational background or even current skillset. Whilst degrees are still valuable, we are likely to see more employers hiring for skills and potential in the year ahead.”

About the research: The survey was conducted between the 10th of August – 11th September 2023 and received 14,915 responses, including 856 tech professionals and 501 tech employers.  

Chloe May
PR Executive

About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is the world’s leading specialist in workforce solutions and recruitment, such as RPO and MSP. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK, Germany and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe, Latin America and Asia. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 30 June 2023, the Group employed over 13,000 staff operating from 252 offices in 33 countries. For the year ended 30 June 2023:

  • the Group reported net fees of £1,294.6 million and operating profit of £197.0 million;
  • the Group placed around 76,800 candidates into permanent jobs and around 245,000 people into temporary roles;
  • 15% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 30% in Germany, 21% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 34% in Rest of World (RoW);
  • the temporary placement business represented 57% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 43% of net fees;
  • Technology is the Group’s largest division, with 26% of net fees, while Accountancy & Finance (15%) and Engineering (10%), are the next largest
  • Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, UAE, the UK and the USA
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