Business ResourcesDefeat the talent gap: retrain employees with technical skills

Linnea Schulenburg
writes on June 14, 2017

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Earlier this year, Glassdoor calculated the value of unfilled job listings in the US using the large amounts of self-reported salary data that their users have input over the years. The numbers are pretty astounding. Technology ranks fifth for the highest value of unfilled jobs, with 263,586 tech jobs available in the US today. Together, those unfilled jobs are worth $21 billion a year in salaries and pay.

Bottom line? Tech workers are in high demand.

 “Technology ranks fifth for the highest value of unfilled jobs, with 263,586 tech jobs available in the US today.”

If you’re one of the multitudes of businesses trying to fill technical roles right now, you know that it’s a tough market. You’re competing with thousands of other job postings from companies offering a huge range of salaries and benefits, as that $21 billion figure above demonstrates. To make matters worse, it’s not just that the competition is fierce, the talent is also a limited resource. Or, at least that’s what we keep hearing.

In ManpowerGroup’s 11th-annual Talent Shortage Survey, tech jobs ranked second hardest to fill, with  24% of respondents agreeing that the lack of available and skilled applicants was the biggest reason those jobs are hard to fill.  A report from Cloud Foundry found that “64% of IT pros agreed that there is now or will soon be a developer shortage.”

Indeed, the job search and listing site, analyzed their data and found that within tech, developer roles particularly are becoming increasingly in-demand and harder to fill:

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The difference in demand and talent availability makes sense. 

Businesses aren’t looking for just any developer or tech worker. As technology drives more growth and opportunity, businesses are being more selective with their hiring. They want to take advantage of new technologies, and be part of innovations in their field. Boiled down to its most basic, companies are looking for 3 specific qualities in new tech hires:

  • Programming and problem solving skills
  • Experience with a particular tech stack
  • Business domain expertise
  • Bonus: they are collaborative, resourceful individuals that can work well with other team members.

Recent grads and experienced pros can both demonstrate problem solving skills, but it’s harder to find engineers who understand your business domain as well as you’d like, and even more unlikely they’ll have extensive experience in your business’s unique tech stack. 

So, how do you overcome your hiring challenges? By training existing employees internally, who you know already understand your business and have the potential to learn. It may sound daunting, but Cloud Foundry’s 2016 Developer Skills Gap report found that “by a nearly 2:1 margin, [companies] are choosing training over hiring or outsourcing as the preferred method for addressing a shortage of skills in their own companies.”

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This is a great idea for a few reasons.

  1. The time spent training for new roles is actually less expensive than hiring someone new. Just consider all of the time and money spent on finding candidates and interviewing, the increased salary for the new hire,  and the time and productivity lost during onboarding and ramp up.
  2. By offering training internally, you’ll increase employee engagement and retention. A recent Culture Amp study found that “people who stay with an organization are 24% more likely to say that they have had access to the learning and development they needed.”
  3. You’ll have a guaranteed great fit. By reskilling a current employee, you’ll end up with a skilled worker, trained with your tech stack in mind, who you trust and who has experience with your business, your goals, and industry.

“By nearly a 2:1 margin, [companies] are choosing training over hiring or outsourcing as the preferred method for addressing a shortage of skills in their own companies.”

TechCrunch has already declared that retraining is the new recruiting, and technology is leading the way for other industries to rethink their hiring and upskilling practices. Providing internal training in your tech stack is the easiest way to ensure both business and employee success and is often more cost effective than recruiting. Best of all, the benefits extend not just to your engineering department, but company wide. Consider retraining existing employees as you consider your hiring needs, and you may find that the talent gap isn’t the hurdle it was before.

Whether you need to retrain employees to work in your tech stack, or just want to increase digital literacy company wide, Treehouse for Business can help you accomplish these goals. Get in touch to learn more about what technical training can do for your business.

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