How can tech companies address the skill shortage by attracting young talent?

Tech has received a lot of bad press recently regarding mass layoffs and threats of AI replacing jobs. According to Statista, the drop in skills shortages among organisations in 2020 was mostly due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that impacted companies' ability to hire.

Despite the bounce back in some industries, in 2023, 54% of organisations still experienced a skills shortage in tech. However, this is not to say tech startups are powerless and can’t fight back. Instead, we can use this as an opportunity to target fresh talent and harness skills. Gen Z are an important generation as they will soon make up 30% of the global workforce. If we don’t tap into their skills and knowledge, companies will suffer from a lack of innovation, growth, and potential extinction. This article will explore how startups can do their bit and re-ignite the tech sector with unstoppable talent.

Implement apprenticeships

Tech startups can help drive employment and equip the next generation with skills by implementing training schemes such as apprenticeships. This is a great way to invest in young talent without having to pay high salaries and give students the opportunity to harness their skills and gain valuable insight into a company. Apprenticeships have had a massive overhaul in recent years and are no longer confined to traditional jobs such as hairdressing and construction. Instead, young people can be inspired by working alongside tech founders and give a new perspective to companies seeking to grow. Furthermore, finding new talent can be time-consuming and cost a lot of money. By offering apprenticeships it helps onboard new employees and make the process much simpler. Another advantage is that training doesn’t need to be as strenuous as they’ve already been equipped with the knowledge during their placement and can seamlessly make the transition from student to colleague.

Tailor work benefits

Many companies are still making the mistake of sticking to the traditional work perks that do not meet the needs of all workers. Startups can address this by introducing flexible working hours, hybrid working, discounts, health insurance, and wellness programmes for instance. In addition, Gen Z takes mental health seriously and values companies which do the same. By offering free counselling sessions, gym memberships, meditation classes etc., startups can have a broad appeal and foster talent they may have missed had they not re-assessed their work policies.

Foster a positive work culture

Your work might be serious but that doesn’t mean your office needs to be. If you want to attract bright, young talent you must set an example and demonstrate why you are a good company to work for. Benefits are great, but the culture and organisational structure are key to winning candidates over. Prioritise mental health, establish work-life balance, encourage collaboration, and value feedback. In addition, have monthly reviews with your team to spot opportunities for improvement and monitor productivity. Arranging social activities outside of work is also good for boosting morale and helping the team get to know each other better. Communication can become closed off very quickly if employees don’t feel comfortable sharing their ideas or personal issues, so whether it’s playing football or volunteering in the community, make sure to involve the whole team.

Don’t just prioritise degrees

The cost of living is a key issue for millions, many are being turned away from the idea of going to university. A cultural shift is also happening as degrees are not the only route available to employment anymore. Startups can help continue this trend by being open to all candidates, regardless of whether they have a degree or not and being committed to training new recruits. For example, work experience placements and apprenticeships have proven to be a success and have expanded into different sectors. The skills shortage poses risks to the industry, and if certain areas are overlooked, businesses can quickly crumble. As a startup, you have the advantage of being flexible and can leverage resources to build a diverse team even if it is just for the short-term, and offering work placements is key to upskilling and creating a dynamic workforce.

Look to the future

There are many uncertainties you deal with as a startup, whether it’s funding concerns or small growth. However, if you don't embrace the challenges and take risks, you will never know if your idea will work or not. Investing in new talent is not a waste of money, but it must be considered carefully. For long-term growth and prosperity, at the very least offering internships is a great way to cultivate young talent and develop your leadership skills as a founder. When you reach the stage of scaling, you will need that young talent on your side to help guide decisions and reflect the modern world. Gen Z are tech-savvy and can adapt quickly, so don’t be hesitant to take a chance on them.

To end, the tech sector has vast opportunities to grow and blossom into a diverse and talent-packed industry that will empower the next generation. Through strategic initiatives such as apprenticeships, tailored work benefits, and fostering positive work cultures, startups can not only address the current skills shortages but also cultivate a pipeline of diverse and dynamic talent. By embracing a culture that values skills over degrees and prioritises innovation, collaboration, and adaptability, these young companies can pave the way for a brighter future.

Moreover, by looking beyond immediate challenges and towards the future, startups can position themselves as pioneers in nurturing the next generation of tech leaders. Investing in internships and mentorship programmes today lays the foundation for sustained growth and innovation tomorrow.