People around the globe and businesses across sectors have moved into a space of constant connectivity. Enterprises saw the need to adapt and transform crucial business processes, powering them with technology of all shapes and sizes.
Building and maintaining tech-enabled solutions has been a key objective, requiring field-specific professionals with varying levels of experience to step in. And that’s where a stumbling block emerged: the global tech talent shortage. As the need for AI, ML, data science, and other unconventional software solutions grew, so did the gap between demand and supply.
IT firms have been at war with each other, trying to win over developers, and businesses have been struggling to find the right vendors for their technical endeavors. Facebook, for instance, is looking into VR solutions and Tesla is exploring space technologies. All these and other aspirations can be achieved if a qualified tech talent pool is involved. And digital skills are projected to continue to be in high demand in the next five to ten years as well, according to an Oxford Economics report.
Let’s bring some statistics to the table: what are the trends behind the software developer shortage?
Globally, employers report that they find it challenging to fill positions across various industries. Countries such as Germany, the United States, Canada, and the UK report average-to-high difficulty finding the perfect workforce, according to research done by the ManpowerGroup.
Among fields such as logistics, manufacturing, marketing, and administration, IT-related roles are the third-hardest to fill globally. Looking at the U.S. alone, this shortage of tech workers may result in losing over $160 billion in economic output.
If the gap between the supply of and demand for these skills is not closed, companies that depend on digital solutions will not be able to deliver services to their clients. This can damage a company’s bottom line and reputation. Organizations and enterprises willing to implement the latest advancements offered by new technologies will be unable to do so due to a lack of an appropriate workforce.
Some key factors are exacerbating the tech landscape and are recurrent across America and Europe.
It’s crucial to understand what stands behind the shortage of talent and act on it.
When developers retire, they leave open positions behind them. In the U.S. alone, 17,900 open positions are projected to appear year after year as former workforce retire or leave the industry. Organizations want to fill these positions, but entry-level developers may not have the technical know-how necessary to substitute baby boomers who just left.
Fewer students are pursuing STEM careers after the outbreak of COVID-19 as it’s hard for them to learn remotely. Also, this career typically requires getting at least a bachelor’s degree. Students are comfortable with associate’s degrees or gaining professional skills in other ways.
IT executives are looking for the perfect candidate to fit right into their existing workflow like a missing puzzle piece. Consequently, recruiters are losing precious time trying to find an employee to fit the requirements provided by the top management. For instance, it can take up to 72 days to find a software developer. Tech talent with high potential for professional growth is, therefore, disregarded and gets rejected. That’s also where the tech talent shortage has its roots.
Digital products go beyond mere creation and need more IT experts to extend the lifespan of each solution. As technology advances, it requires more talent to maintain, update, and scale software that was created earlier. This demand widens the software developer shortage.
COVID-19 has enforced digitalization which would otherwise have taken dozens of years to come into effect without the pandemic providing a society-wide push. Organizations and businesses alike have had to move their existing workflows online to ensure sustainability and tap into the new opportunities technology offers. This shift has made the demand for engineers skyrocket.
IT companies all over the world suffer massive staff turnover. This has a negative influence on deliverables and, therefore, a company’s reputation. The learning curve on projects slows when a new team member comes on board. Customer satisfaction, in turn, suffers because the project time frame increases.
These are just a handful of reasons that may further deepen the so-called tech crisis in the near future unless IT executives invent new strategies and reshape the digital landscape as soon as possible.
The tech talent shortage 2021 conundrum can be solved. When responding to industry-specific needs, IT firms need to rethink their recruitment framework and find ways to keep employees on a long-term basis. Retaining IT talent should be the primary goal.
Firms should partner with educational establishments to cherry-pick the relevant workforce. It’s best to build the talent pipeline in advance and better equip candidates for successful hires. By doing so, companies have data that can help them anticipate turnover and retention rates, as well as predict demand for cutting-edge technologies.
Lenovo, a Chinese-based computer manufacturer, is partnering with Chinese universities to identify young talent that could work for the company in the future. This forward-thinking tactic allows the hardware manufacturer to outpace the shortage and address the problem before it even arises.
Recruiters are working hard to search the web for candidates. Managers and team leads are ready to interrogate candidates to determine who best fits the company’s requirements. Does that sound familiar? This might have had success in the past, but what if an unconventional recruitment strategy was involved? To address the tech talent shortage, companies could think outside of the box and choose a method that communicates value to the potential workforce.
A creative hiring strategy could open up paths never trodden before when finding candidates. For example, the Internet of Think quiz show is a creative recruitment approach that goes above and beyond to find hidden talent. The three rounds in the quiz show let contestants test their IT-related knowledge and receive a cash prize in the end. Not only is the quiz show fun and engaging, but it is also a unique way to reach out to the tech talent pool. This recruitment campaign gets exposure, communicates value, and triggers interest.
Tech employers suffer a shortage of talent, partially because they lack retention tactics. According to Glassdoor, firms should strive to make every day count for newcomers for at least the first six months to let new employees fully acclimate. Some key elements of nurturing workers who are new to an organization include:
- Rising contentment through a fair wage, good working conditions, and high corporate morale
- Asking for feedback on the tasks given and quickly acting on it
- Incorporating interviews with HR managers or employee surveys to make sure job satisfaction is in place
- Engaging newcomers into regular team discussions to share goals for the upcoming week, month, or year
- Encouraging mentoring to let new employees have someone to look up to and rely on
- Providing newcomers with a well-being program like seasonal tickets to the gym, healthcare insurance, paid sick leave, and so on
IT companies are rethinking the business landscape and tapping into other countries to find employees able to serve tech areas with talent shortages. This diversity, equity, and inclusion is extremely visible in Google’s practice. The changes in Google’s hiring efforts have resulted in more than 100,000 employees coming from 60 countries. More positions will be filled if there’s inclusion and acceptance of diversity, which is both race and gender agnostic.
It makes sense to look for the perfect candidate out there when bridging a talent shortage gap. However, top managers and company leaders could also shift their focus inward and reskill or upskill their current employees.
Since there is an acute need for technical skills, Amazon is investing over $1.2 billion to give Amazonians proper technical training. This training initiative revolves around cloud computing and machine learning. By 2025, the company will have completed its goal of giving employees a way to upgrade their skills and receive higher salaries, which can ultimately solidify employee advocacy.
The IT talent shortage isn’t something employers can solve at the drop of a hat. A human-centered approach, inclusiveness, and retention should be combined in an effort to keep the world’s economy and tech advancements afloat — or, better yet, thriving.
Steve Jobs once said: “It’s not a faith in technology. It’s faith in people”. And if we realize that talent is the world’s valuable currency, we will be more willing to nurture employees to futureproof our tomorrow.
Author’s bio: Angela Beklemysheva is a Content Marketing Specialist at Exadel. She’s been writing about IT for years now. She investigates what topics are worth discussing in her posts and educates readers through her copy. Just as IT fascinates her, so does playing the guitar, painting, and reading.