As businesses assess the fallout from the pandemic, is tech talent still in short supply as businesses look to evolve their digital transformation roadmaps?
The jobs landscape for technical jobs has always been challenging equally for job seekers and employers who lament the continuing skills gap in their industries. As business processes have changed in the aftermath of COVID-19, what does this mean for enterprises looking towards their post-pandemic futures and whether they will be able to innovate if the skills gap widens?
CompTIA’s State of the Tech Workforce UK reports that organisations employed approximately 1.98 million tech workers in 2021. Job growth was slower than expected as the UK continued to navigate through the widespread economic impact of the pandemic, but the tech industry avoided the job losses that affected many other industry sectors in the region.
Speaking to Silicon UK, Aude Barral, CCO and co-founder of developer recruitment platform CodinGame, says: “The Great Resignation has hit the tech sector particularly hard. One of the main reasons cited by employees is feeling that their employers focus more on attracting new talent than supporting and investing in their existing workforce. In a recent survey of tech workers, almost three quarters were considering leaving their jobs. Tech professionals are increasingly unwilling to make career trade-offs.”
Barral continued: “A recent CodinGame survey found that the most important criteria for developers when applying for a new position was work-life balance, with the possibility to benefit from more flexible working options, such as remote or hybrid working. Interestingly, they also ranked the technical challenges and work-life balance above salary.”
For business leaders, do they need a different approach to tech recruitment as they move into the post-pandemic era? “A lot of business leaders already recognise they need a different approach to recruitment,” comments Beth Pope, founder and brand partner of the brand consultancy Firehaus. “They know that to attract and retain the staff they need a strong employer value proposition (EVP). One that reflects what makes their culture distinct and what positive impact they’re driving for as a business.
“The best candidates aren’t purely swayed by salary,” Beth continued. “They want their career decisions to reflect how they see themselves and what they hold important, and to have the opportunity for autonomy, mastery and purpose in the roles they take on. Brand has a central role to play in encapsulating the essence of that. And of course, as human beings’ emotion is a key factor in our decision-making. Feeling a sense of affinity with a business. Wanting to play a part in an exciting direction. Having an opportunity to make an impact. Brand is a driving factor in that.”
Jobs in the tech industry have continued to become diverse as new technologies have become business imperatives, including 5G, Edge Computing, AI and, more recently, the impact quantum computing could soon have across all business sectors. Having an enterprise that is attractive to potential employees is now paramount.
Tony Prevost, HR Director EMEA, Skillsoft.
How has the so-called great resignation impacted tech recruitment?
“COVID-19 has been a catalyst for shifting workplace power dynamics, transferring negotiating power to job seekers who are now in control of their destiny. In today’s candidate-driven market, recruitment starts with retention. Organisations must ensure they’re building on top of what they’ve already got, rather than strictly filling the roles of people walking out the door with external candidates. We’ve witnessed a depletion in staff loyalty over the last two years, mainly because many of the reasons people were drawn to work in the past have diminished. The focus for organisations now is developing their talent and building the skills they need within the business.”
For business leaders, do they need a different approach to tech recruitment as they move into the post-pandemic era?
“Recruitment starts with retention. An increased focus on learning supports skills development but can also help retain staff who value their professional development. Retention rates rise 30-50% for organisations with strong learning cultures. It also helps fill skills gaps by allowing existing staff to expand their skillsets, meaning businesses do not have to rely solely on competing in a capricious hiring market. Ultimately, organisations that put learning at the centre of their business are setting themselves up for the future, ensuring that staff will adapt to new developments that may come their way.”
How important is a strong, diverse, and inclusive culture within a business to attract the tech talent enterprises need?
“A strong diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) culture raises all ships — fostering a culture of DEIB in the workplace means making all your employees feel involved and engaged so that they can be their whole, authentic selves inside and outside of the office. In turn, this builds an organizational culture centred around the needs of your employees so that they can learn and do their best at work, which directly translates to success throughout your organization, including being able to attract a diverse talent pool.
“Currently, 76% of global IT decision-makers are dealing with critical skills gaps on their teams. Technology companies have a real opportunity to fill these talent gaps by opening the talent pool to more diverse groups. By effectively promoting the diverse culture within your organisation, candidates from diverse groups will see your company as an excellent workplace and may apply for open positions, offering a competitive advantage.”
Is automation impacting tech jobs? Are people really being replaced with AIs?
“The World Economic Forum report has forecasted that by 2025, half of all work tasks will be handled by machines — creating 97 million jobs worldwide, but destroying almost as many. However, whilst automation through AI and Machine Learning will impact millions of jobs across the globe, presenting a risk to employees who lack digital skills and proficiencies — not everyone is at equal risk of being replaced by a robot. Twice as many women as men are likely to lose their jobs as automation replaces human labour, as roles most susceptible to automation include data processing jobs — such as cashiers or receptionists.
“With the ‘robot revolution’ causing significant implications for gender equality in the workplace, employers must ensure everyone, regardless of gender, age, or location, shares in the spoils of new technology. This means taking a comprehensive approach to reskilling, upskilling, and job transitioning — cultivating a flexible learning culture which provides employees with the opportunity to learn new skills through lifelong learning initiatives. By proactively encouraging a flexible learning culture that embraces change and supporting female employees to develop the skills required to fill identified gaps, employers can lead the charge in narrowing the skills and gender gap.”
In your view, what are the practical steps businesses can take today to help them locate and hire the tech talent they need?
“As the war for talent intensifies due to the post-pandemic circumstances, employee development and talent pooling will become increasingly vital to building an adaptable and flexible modern workforce. Addressing and easing workplace role transitions will require new training models and approaches, including on-the-job training and opportunities that support and signpost workers to opportunities to upgrade their skills. Similarly, investing in digital talent platforms that foster fluidity by matching workers and their skills with new work opportunities within the enterprise will be key.”
People and tech
Tech talent is moving through a transformational period, and as Sam Hameed, Co-Founder and Managing Director, SPG Resourcing, points out, the sector continues to develop a diverse membership: “When it comes to attracting tech talent, culture sets the tone for lots of candidates to base their decision. The tech space is wonderfully diverse, and every employee should feel empowered by the organisation they choose; it’s high on the agenda for many of our candidates to find somewhere they can be themselves, thrive and feel part of a team.
Sam concludes: “Greater diversity of employees within a team increases the diversity of ideas, which sets the bar for great outcomes in technology environments. More lived experiences and perspectives improve the likelihood of positive outcomes for technical problem solving and projects – talented candidates want to join a successful team that works productively, effectively, and cohesively. Ultimately, an organisation that doesn’t value differences and celebrate diversity will restrict the potential to enrich the human capital and the internal environment; shown to boost revenue, engagement, and satisfaction – indicators of organisational success.”
Businesses that consistently and successfully recruit the tech personnel they need have created enterprises with an attractive culture and worked hard to adapt to the seismic shifts in the work organisation. A flexible and dynamic approach to recruitment that pays close attention to multiple factors that now impact a recruiting decision will attract a higher calibre of applicants who can see a clear career path.