Talent Crunch May Curb Tech Growth

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If the current global talent crunch continues, the global tech industry growth will suffer.

And it couldn’t have come at a worse time as companies in a global survey indicated that they want to increase technology investment (60% intend to) and headcount (61%) to record levels in Harvey Nash Group’s Digital Leadership Report. The report was done in collaboration with CIONET and contributed to by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology CISR.

“But these ambitions are coming under threat from the acute skills shortages that are now worse than ever before. In fact, businesses face a triple whammy. They lack the supply of skilled resources they need; they have not yet evolved a new and effective employee proposition for the hybrid working world; the skills they need are themselves changing as technology develops at pace. Digital leaders need to rapidly assess their needs and find solutions if their plans are not to be derailed by this potent cocktail of challenges,” said Bev White, chief executive officer of Harvey Nash Group.

The report found that as the global tech skills crisis reached new heights in 2021. Eight in 10 digital leaders said that post-pandemic, new life priorities among their employees are making retention even more difficult.

Four in 10 globally admit they can’t keep key people as long as they would like, as they’re being lured away by the offer of more money. Only 1 in 3 organizations (32%) have redesigned their employee offers to attract employees in the new hybrid world.

The ongoing talent crunch is creating a challenge for many companies looking to digitalize. In the survey, 67% of digital leaders said that they could not keep pace with change because of a shortage of the talent they need.

Cyber security sector suffering but watch out for developer shortage

Among the various tech skills, cyber security is the hardest to find. Forty-three percent of respondents indicated a shortage, up by almost a quarter in the last 12 months. Big data/analysts (40%) and technical architects (34%) are other skills companies struggle to find.

Meanwhile, a lack of developers is becoming another primary concern. The shortage of developers (32%) saw the most significant increase compared with previous years. The Harvey Nash Group said that this shortage correlated with the report’s finding that companies are focusing on creating new products and services, and therefore need developers to do this work.

In response to the skills shortages, digital leaders aim to broaden the skillsets of their tech teams. Over half (51%) are planning to cross-train people from other parts of their organization. Thirty-nine percent of digital leaders said that they would be offering more apprenticeships over the year ahead.

Besides training and using consultancies to bridge the gap, more than a third of digital leaders said they are widening their geographical net to source new talent as hybrid working becomes more commonplace.  

Gender diversity and remote working adds challenges as fuzzy organization emerges

Another factor impacting the amount of tech talent available globally is the number of women entering the sector and working in leadership roles. Simply put, there aren’t enough of them joining.

In 2021, slightly more of the digital leaders surveyed (12%) identified as female — as the figures continue their painfully slow journey upward. The average proportion of females within the tech team is just under a quarter which shows some promise for future leadership.

However, not all the actions being taken by digital leaders to improve diversity are having an effect. Mandating shortlists and quotas are largely disregarded or not working. The research found that the most successful strategies for improving ratios are driven through culture, training, support networks, and reporting.

Remote and hybrid working are adding to the problems. While the Harvey Nash Group report found that WFH has massively improved work/life balance and productivity, at the same time, mental wellbeing, staff engagement, collaboration, and inclusivity have taken a big hit.

Six in 10 digital leaders reported a decrease in the mental wellness of their tech teams. To combat this, 39% of digital leaders have increased their investment in health and wellbeing programs.

The report also observed that businesses are emerging from the pandemic with their people in disparate locations, more technology embedded within the cloud, and their supply chains diffused. This makes it harder to delineate the ‘boundary’ of an organization and presents a new challenge for all digital leaders.

Image credit: iStockphoto/vicnt