Why Employers Are Struggling to Fill Tech Positions

By BrainStation December 18, 2018

Booming tech industries in cities across North America have created a wealth of opportunities – but recently, they’ve also been slowed by a scarcity of talent.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is forecasting employment of computer and information technology professionals to grow by 13 percent by 2026 – faster than the average for all occupations.

Meanwhile, a recent report from G2 Crowd found that 80.8 percent of employers reported that it’s more difficult to fill positions now compared to 2015, while 51 percent said that the difficulty owed to a lack of talent.

That crunch was particularly acute in the tech world.

“In our research, we’ve found that companies are having more difficulty filling open positions than they have in the past,” said Kara Kennedy, Research Manager at G2 Crowd.

“Over 80 percent of respondents to our survey said they’re having more trouble hiring than they did two years prior. This difficulty is most prominent in sales and IT roles, especially when companies are looking for highly skilled specialists or technical roles.”

Read on for more reasons employers are having a hard time finding the right talent.

Digital Transformation is Increasing Competition

A 2017 study from the International Data Corporation concluded that digital transformation spending would reach $1.7 trillion worldwide in 2018, and already, many companies are reaping the benefits.

But with such a critical mass of companies looking to overhaul their digital strategies, many are battling over the same small pool of talent.

“Digital transformation is creating many different pressures for businesses, but none so acute as the need to have a workforce that is composed of workers with the ‘right” skills and experiences for the digital maturity of the business,” read G2 Crowd’s report.

It makes sense, then, that from a departmental perspective, IT jobs are among the very hardest to fill. G2 Crowd’s research found that 54 percent of respondents reported difficulty hiring technological talent.

And those difficulties and delays in filling out tech talent rosters are seriously hurting the companies affected. In all, 87 percent of respondents said the talent crisis was having a high or medium impact on their ability to meet customer needs.

For job-seekers, however, this competitive atmosphere is good news. According to the 2018 Dice Tech Salary Survey, average tech salaries rose to $92,712 in 2017 – up from $78,035 in 2008.

Technology is Moving Too Fast for Some Job-Seekers

Kennedy points out that U.S. unemployment is the lowest it’s been in a decade at 3.7 percent, making it a tough hiring market.

But she also says that for some positions, there simply aren’t enough candidates with the experience and credentials to do the job.

“There are many high-skilled tech roles where there just aren’t enough qualified workers,” she said. “IoT, AI, and cybersecurity jobs all require highly skilled workers and lack available talent. Within those roles, companies face skill gaps in areas such as problem-solving, leadership or knowledge of technology use.”

The other issue? Even candidates with the correct combination of experience and education might not be right for these roles if their training wasn’t up-to-date.

G2 Crowd’s report found that although a lack of experienced candidates was the top hiring difficulty across all segments, a lack of relevant job skills was also a leading factor in giving companies hiring headaches.

New supporting technologies, business models, and processes are adding the need for new knowledge, skills and experiences among employees, while simultaneously making other jobs and skills obsolete,” read the report.

Indeed, Dice’s salary report found a strong correlation between salary info and skills. As one example, knowledge of the MapReduce programming model correlated to an annual salary of $125,378 among data professionals.

How Are They Solving This?

So far, no solutions have materialized. Dice’s report found that companies are increasingly offering incentives beyond salary to try to lure the top available tech talent, with 71 percent of employers reporting creative recruiting tactics now – compared to only 52 percent in 2009.

That’s only making the tech talent crunch more painful for companies without the same resources.

“For small-business owners, it’s hard to match the potential salary and benefits of a large company,” Kennedy said. “Larger companies are also getting more creative in the ways they’re attracting talent, and that’s taking away some of the advantages small businesses have.”

Meanwhile, G2 Crowd’s report found 42.2 percent of companies are trying new or alternate talent sources – the most popular response to the talent crisis among the companies polled – while 22.5 percent are training existing employees to fill skill gaps and 22.1 percent are collaborating with educational institutions to find fresh graduates with the necessary skill sets.

If you’re interested in updating your digital skills, BrainStation offers a range of courses and training options to help you stay competitive in the job market.