The simple truth behind the tech skills shortage: companies aren't doing enough to train emerging talent
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tech talent shortage is at an all-time high. As businesses race to keep up with the latest digital transformations, and employees rethink their career paths, the skills gap is widening at an alarming rate.
Businesses may attribute the skills shortage to a number of reasons – many of them coming down to frictions caused by the speed of technological progress. But fundamentally, the root cause is a lack of investment in the development of new talent. As insights on diversity, equity, and inclusion become increasingly prevalent, we must consider how to democratise STEM and tech-based jobs and make the industry more welcoming.
To tackle the skills shortage, we must look to the lower end of the talent pipeline and consider how we can help those with a passion for tech get their foot in the door.
Investing in promising talent
The Tech Nation Jobs and Skills Report 2021 showed that more than two-thirds of advertised vacancies across all tech jobs are for senior positions; the proportion is particularly high for data scientist and front-end developer roles (85%) and IT system architects (89%). This sets the industry apart from others where the number of opportunities become fewer further up the career ladder.
Research by Finsbury Glover Hering revealed that a shocking number of young people believe they have missed their chance to build a career in technology. Around half of 16–26-year-olds surveyed stated that they didn’t have the opportunity to study subjects in school that would prepare them for a career in technology and believe it is now too late for them.
It is important that we engage talent at the lower end of the job scale to inspire the next generation of technicians. This ranges from supporting schools in introducing crucial tech skills, such as coding, to children; to helping college students wondering where a degree in computing could land them; to showing graduates the different routes they can take within the industry. But there are many young people with a passion for tech that do not follow the higher-education pathway, and we need to make sure they know the opportunities available to them.
Crucially, it is not only those embarking on the start of their careers that we need to engage with; there are other groups that often get overlooked, such as parents returning to the workplace and those who have been prompted to retrain in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the learning curve for tech roles can be steep, it is crucial that businesses invest in lower-level positions to cultivate the senior talent needed to drive the industry in the future.
Future planning and pledging
We need to put emphasis on training and developing new talent. The importance of apprenticeships, internships and development programmes in tech has never been greater, allowing people to gain hands-on experience while giving companies the tech skills they so desperately need.
Organisations don’t necessarily need to look for candidates who have experience with the latest technologies; it’s about demonstrating a problem-solving nature, and the desire to learn.
At Claranet, our apprenticeship programme gives junior workers the opportunity to learn alongside our clients, enabling them to get to grips with new technologies at the same time as customers are adopting them. And, in the same way that we work with our clients, we help trainees to develop in a way that is secure and stable – with the necessary support in place.
The talent crisis can’t be solved through traditional outsourcing or new technologies. There are currently whole communities of people that the tech industry is not engaging with and, if we are going to truly bridge the skills gap, we need to nurture organisations that support these cohorts. Industry-wide change is needed to expose the wonderful world of tech to new talent and future-proof organisations.