The technical talent shortage is at the forefront of employers’ minds— though the issue is far from new. In 2019, 79% of CEOs expressed concern over the lack of digital talent, and 50% were already nervous about it in 2002. That said, global talent shortages are at a 15-year high, and more than one in three US employers report difficulty filling jobs— not only in North America and Europe— but globally. Talent pools in India and Eastern European countries used to be considered inexhaustible. Now they are quickly tapped out in trying to keep up.

Calculating the why behind the shortage

In a TalentLMS and Workable survey, 72% of US tech employees consider leaving their jobs within the year. Why is this? About 40% listed limited opportunities for career progression as a substantial contributing factor. Other reasons included lack of remote opportunities and feeling underappreciated in toxic work environments. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 58% of those surveyed said their decision stemmed from burnout.

Pandemic pressure

Essentially, the pandemic compressed ten years of digital growth and demand into two. The pressure resulted in what’s known as the “Great Resignation.”  Something sparked inside those burning out and caused them to reassess their career priorities. While some are returning to school to seek other opportunities, others are going freelance to quench their need for more independence and flexibility in scheduling.

Even as we begin to see the other side of the harshest effects of COVID, things will never be quite the same. “Since emerging from its low ebb brought on by the pandemic, IT employment has been essentially flat, “said Mark Roberts, CEO of TechServe Alliance, back in April. Roberts stated later, “Clearly, to be successful in this environment, it’s time for employers to not only rewrite the hiring and retention playbook but also cast a wider net by diversifying the technology talent pool.”

Possible solutions

So, where does this leave the IT and Engineering staffing industry? Well, it’s paramount to get creative about attracting and retaining talent for businesses that wish to thrive, let alone survive.

While more students are pursuing four-year computer science and engineering degrees, many job openings remain unfilled. Therefore, one solution could be dropping a four-year degree requirement for certain positions in favor of two-year degrees or even training certificates. As David Moise, CEO of Decide Consulting, noted in a Forbes column, “There are a lot of smart people in the U.S. whose background is not conducive to enrolling in a four-year degree.”

Opening opportunities on a large scale

In June 2021, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched its “America Works” campaign to address the worker shortage. The campaign suggested a suite of proposals that included training more Americans for in-demand jobs, removing barriers to work (e.g., childcare), doubling the cap on employment-based immigration, and doubling the quota of H-1B and H-2B visas. Without these restrictions, it’s estimated that the U.S. would see about two million more workers. Chamber president Suzanne Clark claims the campaign could improve “the 11 million jobs that sit vacant today and the jobs of tomorrow that haven’t been invented yet.”

Optimizing processes on a small scale

From a recruiting perspective, when clients compete in bidding wars for talent, recruiters must compete for loyalty and partnership. To counteract this, recruiters will need to utilize omnichannel recruitment experience. Using touchpoints just for the sake of filling the positions won’t be enough. Staffing managers must provide an uninterrupted staffing experience by optimizing the recruitment process for the channel that suits the talent perfectly. Additionally, providing additional education opportunities could entice contractors who don’t have the resources to do so elsewhere, reducing burnout rates.

This also extends to the recruiters themselves. Today, a common trait for staffing agency employees is the ability to be great multi-taskers. They seamlessly manage multiple client accounts and simultaneously respond to hundreds of workers’ queries. However, as we advance, staffing managers must modify their working methodologies accordingly. Although some staffing businesses already offer specific training programs to help the recruiters learn new-age technologies and solutions, from 2022 onwards, recruiters must be proactive enough to adapt these technologies effortlessly, helping their agencies stay ahead of the competition.

There’s no right answer (yet)

According to a Gartner survey, businesses believe a talent shortage is the biggest obstacle standing in the way of 64% of new tech they’d like to adopt. If they cannot adapt, they are, therefore, unable to compete, which causes a severe impediment to innovative development. Sadly, it looks like this might be an uphill battle for most.

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