There are few industries in which the search for top talent is as critical – and as difficult – as in the technology industry.
In the UK, where close to 8 percent of all workers are employed by tech companies, leaders say a shortage of skilled professionals is threatening future growth. And in the US, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (published in 2012) predicted a shortage of one million technical workers over the following 10 years.
Language related to the talent gap seemed to reach peak angst in late 2013, when a contributor to the Huffington Post called the situation “economically devastating”.
In recent years, however, some critics have claimed that the shortage of STEM talent has been overhyped. Critics say the talent gap is promoted by technology companies eager to relax immigration rules and attract lower-cost talent. In an interview with Businessweek, Hal Salzman, a professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers University, said: “There’s no evidence in any way, shape, or form that there’s a shortage in the conventional sense. They may not be able to find them at the price they want. But I’m not sure that qualifies as a shortage, any more than my not being able to find a half-priced TV”.
Regardless of whether the shortage is exaggerated or not, it remains true that technology leaders must grapple with complex talent problems unique to the industry, including that:
- The talent required to solve today’s challenges may not be the right set of skills to compete in tomorrow’s technology market. Research shows technology CEOs are in search of talent with a wider range of skill sets – three in four say they are looking for broader skills than in the past, according to PwC’s Global CEO survey.
- The search for specific skills or portfolios of skills is made more difficult in tech because companies must also weigh how high-demand talent wants to work. Millennials are more likely than their older colleagues to prefer flexible work arrangements, and many tech workers are embracing free agency and choosing to work as independent contractors. A 2014 Millennial survey from Deloitte found up to 70 percent of graduates would reject traditional businesses to work independently.
- Tech companies are facing pressure from industry observers – particularly in the media – to diversify their ranks of workers and executives. In 2014, Google, Facebook and Apple (among others) released data showing men outnumbered women two to one, and in technology roles the ratio rises to four to one and higher.
- More than any other industry, technology companies feel compelled to offer a creative and generous array of benefits outside of direct compensation– a trend introduced by hip, high-growth startups that we will comment on in greater depth.
What impact do these issues have on technology industry hiring companies? With the Talent Insights Series, Universum aims to uncover what university students are looking for in future technology employers – and how companies can translate these findings into actionable steps for HR, recruiting and C-level leadership. Learn more by signing up for the report below.
Talent attraction in the tech industry
WHAT UNIVERSITY STUDENTS LOOK FOR IN FUTURE EMPLOYERS AND THE IMPLICATIONS FOR COMPANIES THAT SEEK TO HIRE THEM.