Technology companies in the U.S. have faced a shortage of digital skills for years. The pandemic accelerated digitalization while causing many people to leave the workforce, turning a chronic problem into a full-blown skills crisis.

The result was a boom in demand for digital products and services, from cloud computing to mobile telecommunications, in order to help organizations connect with customers virtually and enable their workforces to collaborate remotely.

Our The Rise of the Tech Talent Shortage finds that many of these trends are likely to remain even when the Covid era abates, helping to sustain demand for technology professionals in an economy that has been rapidly digitized.

"More than ever, we're seeing the number of companies recruiting for the same skillset increase. Top talent is prioritizing companies that value flexibility and have trust in the individuals they hire to accomplish their goals." - Nicholas Ferraro, Director of Salesforce at Computer Futures.

Tech Talent in Demand

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics forecasts that employment in computer and information technology will grow by 13% between 2020 and 2030, fueled by the increasing importance of digital transformation and the introduction of automation into companies’ operations.

Although some household tech names have made headlines for pulling back on recruitment after a long spell of headcount expansion, there is still a growing need within the market for many skills. Opportunities for security analysts, for instance, are projected to surge by 33%. For software developers, the figure is 22% and the number of jobs for systems administrators will grow by 5%, according to official data. 

Among the key roles firms recruit for are Salesforce specialists. The customer relationship management platform is constantly introducing new technology and expanding its ecosystem with new innovations. Salesforce is expected to create 1.45 million jobs in the U.S. by 2026 and $531 billion of new business revenue. Inevitably, businesses are in desperate need of talent, from technical and solutions architects to developers, to manage the technology.

A slowdown in general U.S. economic growth has not taken the heat out of the job market. Because there are far more vacancies than candidates to fill them, jobseekers still have the upper hand – and they know it. Our parent company SThree recently surveyed 1,300 IT professionals and found that 65% believed demand for their skills would increase in the coming months. 

Competing for Tech Talent

Despite the shortage of tech talent, recruitment remains a key business imperative. An article by McKinsey Digital in April said: “Despite the formidable challenges in finding tech talent, incumbent companies cannot expect to succeed in the digital world without being technologically strong, which is simply not possible without a deep bench of tech talent. In fact, developing robust people and talent strategies are among the highest-value actions a business can take. Tech talent, therefore, should be a CEO’s top priority.” 

To attract talent in a historically tight labor market, 57% of employers surveyed by SThree have already shifted to remote or hybrid working models, as companies find a large number of tasks can be completed remotely without any loss of productivity. Pay remains an equally important lure at a time when U.S. inflation is at multi-decade highs. 61% of survey respondents rated salary and benefits as the most important factors when searching for a new job.

But while making competitive salary offers can help tackle labor shortages, companies’ input costs are also rising, putting pressure on budgets. Instead of making large wage increases, some employers are turning to on-the-job training to stave off staffing problems and keep a lid on costs.

On top of wages and benefits, many job candidates have indicated that work-life balance is a top priority, suggesting that companies will need to focus on their culture as much as their promotion pipeline to attract top talent.

Making a Difference in STEM

Additionally, SThree’s candidate survey showed that 26% of candidates are looking for a career that makes a positive difference in the world. More than that, though, employers must provide career development opportunities to not only attract but retain their top performers.

Some firms are relying on contractors to meet their short-term hiring needs, as skilled freelancing makes up a growing segment of the tech workforce. Taking on IT contractors can help plug skills gaps and provide specialist knowledge on-demand.

Further, companies broaden their hiring pool. Marginalized groups in the tech sector remain an untapped source of talent, despite diversity bringing an array of business benefits including greater profitability and innovation potential. 

For employers, competition for the right talent will continue to be fierce; 63% of those surveyed expect a shortfall of candidates to be a challenge. By focusing on pay and benefits, creating a strong corporate culture, and casting the recruitment net more widely, they can tackle the shortage of digital skills and future-proof their business.