“Through our specialist niche technology recruitment arm, we’ve seen first-hand just how difficult it can be for organizations to find the right digital skills—our independent market research tells us that the majority of professionals working in specialist tech have under three years of experience. In many cases, businesses are using brand new technology that doesn’t yet have a skilled user base to lean on, so local talent markets can be extremely shallow. You have to look further afield to find the perfect fit and then convince them to relocate, which is something not everyone’s willing to do.
“Those who do have the right skills know how much of a commodity they are, and their salary and benefits reflect this. What’s more, they’re often exclusive candidates working with recruiters, so either aren’t part of the general talent pool or have their next few years mapped out going from contract to contract. In short, people with specialist tech skills are hard to find, and those that have them can be really difficult to attract; it means many businesses are priced out of the market and must settle for a junior hire.
“That isn’t the worst thing in the world—it gives you a good opportunity to work with a ‘clean slate’, someone who will build their career from the ground up with your company, using your processes and best practices without any bad habits. Unfortunately they’ll also probably lack the skills required to hit the ground running, so you’ll be playing catch-up for at least six months until they become familiar enough with the technology to operate it on an administrative level. From there, you’ll have to train them to be a specialist.
“A lot of businesses don’t have the kind of learning and development budget to turn a new starter into a platform expert in the space of a year either; even their top performers wouldn’t get this kind of support, so it’s unrealistic to think that a new hire would benefit from it. The training required is often very specialist, and usually involves bringing in accredited trainers to work with this talent towards certification exams. This is all while business-as-usual tasks are being disrupted or neglected.
“The skills gap is creating a massive gulf in the talent market. Businesses still have access to junior and senior hires (if they have the resource for the latter), but these mid-level staff that are in such high demand are impossible to find because they aren’t being created! Few junior tech pros receive the support they need to reach that next level of expertize, while those who already have are working as architects and project leads on huge salaries.
“Instead of training staff themselves, another option is to work with a specialist tech academy. Through intensive, vendor-approved and -accredited training and trainers, and practical exercises using sandbox environments that mimic the production build, businesses can bring professionals up-to-speed on technologies in a fraction of the time it would take in-house, with no wasted time or costs. This means a new hire doesn’t join you until they have the skills required to do the job at hand, and you’ve nurtured new talent in a market that otherwise wouldn’t have existed.
“I think businesses need to accept that if they want specialist tech staff, operating specialist technology, they’re going to have to lean on education programs like these. The logistics and costs of in-house training are too great, and businesses can’t afford to spend time bringing staff up to speed themselves, or conversely, searching far and wide for a candidate that doesn’t exist. Only by creating your own talent will you be able to plug the deficit being created by the digital skills gap.”
James Lloyd-Townshend is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Tenth Revolution Group. Through the company’s specialist tech recruitment and cloud creation arms, James is dedicated to bridging the digital skills gap by introducing net new talent to in-demand tech ecosystems.