Reinventing the tech workforce

Talent is a vital resource for the success of any business. Today, in any successful growth strategy, technology must be at the forefront. However, the reality is, attracting, developing and retaining talent that can support this growth is one the biggest issues facing any business due to the simple fact that technology is always evolving and there will always be a gap between demand for the latest technology and the skills to fulfill it.

With 60% of businesses believing the need for specialist digital skills will only increase in the next five years, there must be immediate intervention. Should the skills gap become more pronounced, corporations risk a talent deficit that will be both expensive and time-intensive to rectify - which is why they must act now and reinvent their workforces.

What we must first understand is that whilst there is a lack of digital skills, there is certainly not a lack of digital talent. With the right strategies in place to attract, develop, and retain staff with potential, there will always be a capability for company growth.

A two-pronged approach to reinventing the workforce

In order to upskill and reinvent the workforce, there must be a two-pronged approach - the first is training the workforce to use current technology-based solutions, the second is thinking long-term and training the workforce to use technologies on the horizon.

During the pandemic, we’ve witnessed adoption of tech at the fastest pace we’ve ever seen so it can be difficult for companies to keep up and reinvent the workforce at the same rate. Therefore, instead of purely focusing on the now, businesses must also look ahead at how they can future-proof and prepare their workforces for technologies on the horizon too.

We’re witnessing great demand for talent trained in world-leading and emerging digital, cyber, and cloud technologies. Thanks to the latest tech innovations, those are the specialist areas that need to be filled by talent immediately. There is also a huge demand for skills in products and platforms that have been adopted by most corporations.  Companies like Adobe, Salesforce, ServiceNow, Pega, Splunk, and more have scaled to provide the software infrastructure, but small ecosystems and limited supply of capability drives prices up and slows end-user adoption and innovation.  This is also true for the more widely recognized AWS, Google, and Microsoft digital skills sets. The point here is that if businesses aren’t planning years into the future and identifying upcoming trends, there is a risk that the skills gap will continue to grow and those businesses will get left behind. Over the next 10 years, the priority mustn’t be filling the void - that’ll be a thankless pursuit - instead, we need a sustainable approach backed by an agile and flexible workforce that is constantly looking ahead and upskilling.

It’s not always all about the numbers - it’s about individual strengths

What many companies fail to understand is that it’s not about simply training as many people as possible. Different people have different skill sets, and it is the responsibility of businesses to recognise this. Instead, the focus should be on how they can harness and attract talent without stereotypical paths into computer programming.

Companies must recognise that there is a difference between system engineers and corporate developers. Each category of worker can be leveraged in different ways to effectively plug current and future skills gaps that businesses inevitably face. But, how can they encourage graduates with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history or French to enter a career in computer programming?

That is the big question – but this is where low-code and no-code trends step in, offering an accessible entry point for those who are less mathematically or algorithmically advanced or experienced, which is a factor putting many off of specialising their skill set for lucrative software roles.

Low code, no code

Software companies like Pega or Tanium, have created these no-code and low-code solutions to accelerate the development process, meaning those with very little experience can take advantage of powerful technology and quickly build workflows, solutions and systems without having to be a programming expert. With platforms like these, graduates with minimal digital skills can simply learn to code with a platform that streamlines the more technical development process.

With these trends, companies can attract new talent and rectify the imbalance between the ever-growing demand for software development and the shortage of skilled developers currently in the market. This approach is mutually beneficial to corporates and graduates alike. Graduates are able to step into the world of software development with limited experience, filling the ever-growing digital skills gap. And, corporations can take an idea and launch it quickly.

Retention, retention, retention

Amid a skills shortage, retention is everything. Companies must prioritise and track the continuous professional development (CPD) of their employees. This is a critical element of employee retention commonly unaddressed but unfortunately, recruitment and training alone will no longer bridge the skills gap.

For employees to feel appreciated, motivated and listened to, daily touchpoints are key, alongside quarterly reviews. While this may seem formal, providing recognition for accomplishments and offering employees the opportunities to change roles or advance in their careers is imperative.

Staff must also be encouraged to socialise, collaborate with one another, think outside the box and share their ideas with senior staff. By doing so, employees will feel heard and valued in terms of the impact they can make on a company’s direction and growth. Hence, this approach will not only inspire innovation but boost employee retention rates too.

To conclude, building a long-term and sustainable tech workforce will require constant work and review. The key to narrowing the skills gap facing corporations will be forward-thinking to identify trends, continuous improvement of assessment and training programmes, accessible entry points for non-skilled graduates and high retention rates.