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Opin­ions expressed by Entre­pre­neur con­trib­u­tors are their own.


The tech skills gap has been a prob­lem for a while now, and as the world nav­i­gates the new work­force land­scape, the for tal­ent will only grow. Now more than ever, tech skills are need­ed in every indus­try. Com­pa­nies will need new tech sup­port to enable effi­cient remote work. Waves of inno­va­tion spurred from the cri­sis will demand more tech tal­ent. And demands for tech­nol­o­gists to help address the health cri­sis in real-time are soar­ing.

As demand increas­es, com­pa­nies must rethink sup­ply. Con­sid­er the well-known nar­ra­tive that the tal­ent gap exists due to a wide­spread lack of tech skills. This may be true of the cur­rent work­force. ( reports that more than 120 mil­lion work­ers across the world’s 12 largest economies may need to be retrained in the com­ing years, but only 41 per­cent of CEOs say they hold the skills nec­es­sary to dri­ve busi­ness.) How­ev­er, this nar­ra­tive is incom­plete.

Its focus is on the lack of skills — a prob­lem inher­ent only to the work­force. But what if the skills gap is as much, if not more, a result of out­dat­ed edu­ca­tion­al meth­ods and hir­ing mind­sets?

That’s what we found when we start­ed Launch­Code to help close the gap. When we set out to equip more peo­ple with tech skills, we dis­cov­ered plen­ty had the apti­tude and eager­ness to learn. They either weren’t being giv­en rel­e­vant train­ing in tra­di­tion­al edu­ca­tion­al envi­ron­ments or they were being met with unnec­es­sary bar­ri­ers to get­ting hired.

Rel­e­vant train­ing alone, how­ev­er, won’t fill the tal­ent gap. Com­pa­nies will need to open their hir­ing doors to a more diverse tal­ent pool. Whether you’re hir­ing and devel­op­ing tech tal­ent for tech com­pa­nies or non­tech com­pa­nies (which are also increas­ing­ly in need of tech skills), every entre­pre­neur must be invest­ed in the con­ver­sa­tion about how to change the way his or her com­pa­ny recruits and devel­ops for these skills.

Relat­ed: Sharp­en Your Company’s Com­pet­i­tive Edge by Hir­ing the Most Moti­vat­ed Tech Tal­ent

Creating new pipelines

Out­dat­ed mind­sets are imped­ing progress toward clos­ing the skills gap in a few ways. At the col­lege lev­el, tra­di­tion­al insti­tu­tions sim­ply aren’t set up to evolve their cur­ricu­lum quick­ly and eas­i­ly enough to meet the changes in demand among com­pa­nies. The skills stu­dents learn often prove irrel­e­vant by the time they grad­u­ate.

On the employ­er side, too many com­pa­nies are talk­ing about their inabil­i­ty to find can­di­dates yet are unwill­ing to revise their hir­ing stan­dards. For instance, many still require strict cre­den­tials, such as degrees or pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence, that auto­mat­i­cal­ly exclude a broad­er tal­ent pool. Today, when more and more tech­nol­o­gists are self-taught or learn­ing through alter­na­tive skilling pro­grams, these cre­den­tials are need­less­ly lim­it­ing.

Relat­ed: 12 Sites That Will Teach You Cod­ing at a Low Cost, Even Free

The good news, how­ev­er, is that even in today’s rocky econ­o­my, this land­scape is slow­ly shift­ing. With­in tech, in par­tic­u­lar, the skills gap is begin­ning to close. The Indeed Hir­ing Lab com­pared this field to oth­ers and found an upward trend in skills match­ing with avail­able jobs.

The rea­son for this? Changes in train­ing and employ­er hir­ing prac­tices. In the years since start­ing Launch­Code, we’ve watched cod­ing boot camps explode and a pletho­ra of web­sites for online skilling emerge. Peo­ple have so many options to equip them­selves for work in tech — and to do so quick­ly. As unem­ploy­ment rates soar in var­i­ous oth­er indus­tries, more peo­ple will like­ly turn to these resources to reskill and find jobs in tech.

But this still wouldn’t mat­ter if employ­er atti­tudes and hir­ing prac­tices stayed stag­nant. For­tu­nate­ly, com­pa­nies in tech are shift­ing more toward com­pe­ten­cy-based hir­ing, and it’s allow­ing can­di­dates who don’t meet tra­di­tion­al qual­i­fi­ca­tions to get their feet in the door. This means that few­er appli­cants are get­ting pushed aside auto­mat­i­cal­ly because they don’t have degrees in com­put­er sci­ence or five years of expe­ri­ence.

Relat­ed: Why, and How, to Hire for Poten­tial Over Expe­ri­ence

Narrow your company’s gap

Tech may be lead­ing the way here, but employ­ers in any indus­try can work on clos­ing the tech skills gap with­in their work­force. These three strate­gies can help you start with your com­pa­ny:

1. Eval­u­ate your demands.

The blend of roles in many com­pa­nies is chang­ing dai­ly. As and robot­ics alter the com­plex­ion of the work­force, the most rel­e­vant skills are shift­ing quick­ly.

In man­u­fac­tur­ing alone, 20 mil­lion new jobs around the globe could go to robots by 2030, accord­ing to Oxford Eco­nom­ics. How­ev­er, the expects this mix­ture of human and machine to lead to 133 mil­lion new roles by 2022. Robots may be fill­ing some roles, but they’re also cre­at­ing new ones that will demand tal­ent with rel­e­vant tech skills.

This means your com­pa­ny should always be eval­u­at­ing its tech­nol­o­gy demands and tal­ent needs — for today and the future. What’s already being auto­mat­ed? What’s like­ly to be? What new tech­nolo­gies will you be imple­ment­ing, and what roles are need­ed to imple­ment them?

2. Look for upskilling oppor­tu­ni­ties.

Instead of look­ing out­side for new tal­ent to fill in the gaps, take a look at who’s already in your com­pa­ny. You may have peo­ple who fit the bill per­fect­ly but just need you to help them devel­op a few new skills.

Ama­zon announced last year that it would spend $700 mil­lion on retrain­ing and upskilling 100,000 employ­ees. That’s an entire third of its U.S. work­force. The retail giant knows that its skill demands are chang­ing rapid­ly. But rather than hunt­ing to find 100,000 peo­ple with the right STEM skill sets, it’s going to equip proven peo­ple from with­in.

When you invest in upskilling, you increase the poten­tial of your exist­ing resources instead of sink­ing your resources into scour­ing a high­ly com­pet­i­tive job mar­ket. And you help employ­ees advance out of low­er-skills jobs and move up in their careers.

3. Rework your job post­ings.

Despite the changes in tech, many oth­er com­pa­nies are still stuck in the old way of think­ing about expe­ri­ence. A Tal­ent­Works analy­sis of almost 100,000 jobs found that 61 per­cent of all full-time, entry-lev­el jobs required three-plus years of expe­ri­ence. And that amount of required expe­ri­ence is ris­ing by 2.8 per­cent every year.

Con­trast that with IBM’s Rock­et Cen­ter, West Vir­ginia, facil­i­ty. Accord­ing to the Soci­ety for Human Resource Man­age­ment, almost a third of its employ­ees work­ing in cyber­se­cu­ri­ty, cloud com­put­ing, appli­ca­tion devel­op­ment and sup­port don’t have four-year degrees. IBM is hir­ing for the skills or train­ing peo­ple with the right apti­tude.

Make sure the require­ments in your job post­ings aren’t shut­ting out excel­lent poten­tial can­di­dates. Use lan­guage that’s inclu­sive of all tech back­grounds, and don’t make unre­al­is­tic demands for five to 10 years of expe­ri­ence. Focus more on pro­vid­ing your exist­ing employ­ees with oppor­tu­ni­ties for con­tin­u­ous learn­ing and advance­ment. If you’re not doing this, you’re already behind.

There are tens of thou­sands of tal­ent­ed peo­ple who want to enter tech — they sim­ply haven’t been giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to do so. This is the biggest rea­son the skills gap still exists. Once more of these tal­ent­ed indi­vid­u­als have open path­ways to learn­ing and more com­pa­nies val­ue their skills over cre­den­tials, that gap will tru­ly begin to close.

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