Don’t wait! Be prepared for the tech talent shortage and economic headwinds

A new report from consulting firm Korn Ferry forecasts a shortage of 85 million skilled workers globally by 2030, leading to as much as $8.42 trillion in unrealised economic potential. And in the US, it’s being exacerbated by the high cost of attending university—according to research from the National Student Clearinghouse, US enrollment has dropped by 1.3 million students over the last two years (a 7.3% decline). To top it all off, the global economy is facing strong economic headwinds, with the risk of global recession growing with each new report.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that organisations are struggling to hire tech talent, despite all the recent headlines about layoffs in the tech sector. Throw in the increasing odds of a looming recession, and your hiring budget is likely to take a hit anyway.

But the work hasn’t gone away. And the speed of tech innovation slows down for nothing—not even a challenging economy. You still have to keep up with it all to stay ahead of your competitors. The question is, how?

In their new report Retaining and Retraining During Economic Volatility, O’Reilly proposes some intriguing (and attainable) solutions that can help your organisation meet the concerns of today head-on.

Be open to training people without college degrees

Higher education isn’t attainable for all—and that includes a lot of very smart people who can be trained and upskilled in the technologies your organisation needs to leverage. Google, Netflix, Tesla, IBM, Bank of America, Hilton, and more already know this and have relaxed degree requirements for many positions.

Instead of searching for applicants with degrees who know specific tools (which are more difficult to find), consider looking for those with the kind of soft skills and aptitude that shows they’re trainable. But first, you’ll need to ensure you have the right learning and development (L&D) resources in place to train them.

L&D is on the rise, and for good reason

Corporate investment in L&D has been exploding, with some estimates suggesting it’s grown by more than $100 billion since 2010. And the trend seems to be accelerating. O’Reilly themselves note in their Technology Trends for 2023 report that their tech learning platform saw total usage grow by 14.1% year-over-year, more than doubling the 6.2% gain they saw between 2020 and 2021.

If you’re asking, “Why?” then you might have skimmed a bit too quickly to this point. We’re currently experiencing a global skills shortage, with 87% of companies worldwide struggling to fill skills gaps—and it’s worsening.

At the same time, budgets are being cut due to what looks like an impending recession, so even if you find a proverbial needle-in-the-haystack prospect, you might not be able to hire them. This means you have to retain—and retrain—the resources you already have. A bird in the hand, so to speak.

All business leaders know the importance of retention. But keeping employees happy and staying with you is about more than just raises and bonuses. 70% of employees recently reported that they would consider leaving their current role for an organisation known for investing in employee development and learning. And 90% said they would remain working for an organisation that invested in career development. 

Those are striking numbers. They suggest that without individual professional growth, your talent will lose interest. And when they lose interest, they’re gone. So it’s in both your company’s and your employees’ best interest to help them grow their skills and learn the tools and technologies that can help propel their careers—and drive your business. That’s where L&D can play a major role.

Employee growth drives organisational growth

There are a lot of great L&D partners out there that can fit your corporate goals and budget. Some empower your employees to “learn in the flow of work”—offering solutions that can be put to work immediately as problems arise (a line of code, a quick definition, etc.).

Some provide deep dives into the latest tools and technologies to help users learn them from scratch and even try them out in live dev environments. Some include courses tailored to today’s top tech roles, laying out exactly what learners need to succeed. One or two might offer all of these things.

Without the right L&D partner at your side, achieving any of the above is difficult, to say the least. But with one, you could potentially offer ongoing unlimited learning to dozens of your tech teams for a fraction of the cost of a single new hire. Which can help keep all of them growing, happy, and moving your business forward.

O’Reilly’s report goes into more detail than we can in just a blog post—and it’s free. Check it out for yourself here.


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