Two thirds of Ireland, UK SAP users concerned about future skills shortage

Concern about losing existing SAP skills, and acquiring new ones
Image: IDGNS

19 November 2020

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of organisations are concerned about a shortage of SAP skills in the future, according to research from the UK & Ireland SAP User Group (UKISUG), the independent not-for-profit organisation representing all users of SAP software.

The survey of 188 SAP user organisations across Ireland and the UK found that 79% were concerned about losing existing SAP skills, with salary (28%), career enhancement (28%), and opportunities to work on newer technologies (25%) cited as the main contributors for staff leaving.

Cost and availability are the biggest contributors to this growing skills gap, research found. When asked what are the main challenges when it comes to recruiting for SAP roles, 35% of organisations cited the cost of salaries, followed by limited skills in the market overall (24%), and limited skills availability due to their geographic location (18%).




The Covid-19 crisis is influencing organisations’ recruitment strategies when it comes to acquiring SAP skills, it found. Just under half (49%) say it is slowing their investment in SAP skills, and almost 65% say the increase in remote working is making future recruits’ geographic location less important.

“SAP remains a business-critical system for many organisations,” said Paul Cooper, chairman, UKISUG. “Yet our survey shows many are facing challenges when it comes to retaining or acquiring the technical skills they need to implement, manage, and support their SAP estates. The challenge of replacing existing knowledge and expertise cannot be underestimated, with organisations facing the prospect of needing to replace decades worth of experience as those people involved in early projects approach retirement.

“There is no denying that SAP technical skills are at a premium, and that this is creating a supply and demand problem in the UK and Ireland. Whether it is attracting the Basis skills to maintain an existing estate or requiring new skills to move to the cloud – cost and availability is front of mind for many IT decision makers. This, in turn, is forcing organisations to make continual trade-offs when it comes to investing in both people and systems.”

The development and acquisition of SAP skills is growing consideration for those organisations planning to move to SAP S/4HANA. Almost three-quarters (73%) of organisations were concerned a lack of available skills will impact the speed their organisation moves to SAP S/4HANA, while 67% think it is/was a challenge to train existing staff to implement and manage SAP S/4HANA.

“Beyond simply making the business case for the upgrade, organisations also have to factor in the availability of skills for both the implementation and management of SAP S/4 HANA,” continued Cooper.

“While there currently appears to be sufficient skills to support current demand for SAP S/4HANA, there is the potential for greater disparity in the future as demand increases the nearer we get to the 2027 maintenance deadline for ECC 6.0. While there clearly isn’t a silver bullet, it is up to the entire SAP ecosystem to work together to retain and share knowledge, and develop the next-generation workforce. This will help ensure that organisations of all sizes have the skills available to support them both now and in the future, irrespective of the speed of their digital journey.” 

“Companies that create a culture of continuous learning can maximise business performance, achieve outstanding results, and optimise the intelligent enterprise,” said Eva Zauke, senior vice president and global head of SAP Enterprise Adoption. “Closing the skills gap and enabling people to perform at their best is the foundation for making the digital transformation a success.”   

The User Group will be hosting a stream entitled ‘SAP Skills’ as part of its Digital Insights Symposium, which is taking place 2 December.

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