We’re in the middle of a serious IT talent shortage.
That’s the message we hear all around us.
A 2015 survey by Appirio showed that 90 percent of C-level executives in the U.S. and U.K. stated that the recruitment and retention of technology talent was a crucial business challenge.
The survey also found that over 25 percent of projects were abandoned due to a lack of IT capacity, and projects that were completed were generally delayed by five months.
To further illustrate this fact, consider that according to a 2015 CareerBuilder survey, an average of 689,685 IT jobs were posted each month. Yet at 209,035, the average number of hires was far less. That means there was a gap of 480,650 positions—more than sixty percent of all open positions weren’t filled!
Despite the shortage of talent, technology keeps advancing faster and faster.
What’s more, the rate at which we adopt new technology is speeding up correspondingly.90% of C-level executives in the U.S. and U.K. stated that the recruitment and retention of technology talent was a crucial business challenge.Click To Tweet
As Michael Rosenbaum explains in his InfoWorld article titled “How to fix the tech talent shortage,” software development is critical to all companies’ business success.
Mobile app usage is now the norm for everything from shopping to professional collaboration—and any company that lags behind is likely going to become obsolete.
Clearly, employers need IT talent.
And while the competition for IT talent is steep, the competition for top IT talent is even steeper.
In fact, many employers use tactics like offering extremely high sign on bonuses and even poaching talent from their competitors in order to get the talent they need.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the most reliable way of acquiring talent. Moreover, it doesn’t do much in terms of creating a work environment built on trust and loyalty.
So what can employers do to quell an IT talent shortage by attracting the IT workers they need—and retaining them for the long term?
The solution is much simpler than you may think.
Consider this: when you’re looking to fill an IT position, what criteria does the ideal candidate have to meet?
Most employers require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. And since college grads generally don’t have the practical coding skills needed in the workplace, employers usually also like to see a couple of years of work experience on their résumés.
When you think about it objectively, this method of hiring isn’t the most efficient or cost-effective.
Yes, it’s become the norm for employers to demand a college degree for pretty much every position. And degree holders in an in-demand field can negotiate generous salaries.
But why would you pay for an employee who has a degree—but doesn’t have the skills you need?
Employers are either paying too much for employees who are learning on the fly, or passing up on talent—and as a result, on projects and revenue—because they can’t find degree holders with the right skills.
The point here is that employers need to adjust their search parameters—as well as their perception of their IT talent shortage.
Almost every young person in America over the past 20 years has been told that to have a good career, you need a college degree.
However, nowadays, the average undergraduate leaves college with a debt of $37,000 in student loans. Unsurprisingly, an increasing number of students are looking for alternative pathways to a career.
Interestingly, the IT industry offers more options than most fields.
There are a large number of (online) certification programs and bootcamps that teach people to code in a short period of time—anywhere from six weeks to a year. In contrast to an academic computer science curriculum, these programs are entirely practical.
That means that participants who complete these programs possess sufficient knowledge of current IT to do entry-level jobs (at the very least). But because these individuals don’t come with a degree, they’re often overlooked.
And that means employers are missing out on a huge pool of high-potential talent.
For an employer, hiring someone who completed one of these courses has two advantages:
- the person is younger and doesn’t hold a college degree, so he or she is more affordable.
- the candidate possesses a foundation of practical knowledge upon which more expertise can be built—expertise that can be targeted towards the company’s needs.
Now, when an employer offers this kind of candidate the opportunity to develop his or her skills on the company’s dime, don’t you think that candidate is going to feel happier, more satisfied, and more engaged?
Plus, if the employer also fosters a company culture in which ongoing development and collaboration are valued, as well as things like flexible work arrangements and the opportunity to do meaningful work, don’t you think a Millennial will be excited about this position?
In conclusion, the IT skills gap is more a question of perception than it is a reality.
Forward-thinking employers who are willing to find high-potential talent and invest in their development can effectively create their own, tailor-made IT workforce of highly skilled talent.
This solution can only help resolve the IT talent shortage many businesses face today.