A tech employer’s guide to addressing the widening skills gap

The skills gap is a formidable challenge faced by the modern tech industry. Learn how to devise an effective strategy to tackle it.

The widening skills gap is a growing concern across many industries with the IT and tech sectors, in particular, suffering from some of the most significant gaps.

The overall skills gap in the software and app development sector is reportedly 55% while emerging tech suffers from a whopping 59%.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic only widened the gap further as many professionals were deprived of adequate training.

While these statistics are quite alarming, the situation is far from hopeless. However, many tech organizations fail to establish a formal strategy to address the increasing skills gap, which is partly why the problem persists at scale.

Tech employers cannot tackle every factor contributing to the discrepancy, as some extend beyond the control of organizations. For example, the rapid advancement of technologies has partially contributed to the skills gap, as the educational curriculum has struggled to keep up. Most tech organizations do not have the time or resources to address factors of this scale.

Fortunately, there are some tried-and-tested strategies for tech employers to fill the gap within their organizations. This article will explore how tech employers can devise a formal strategy to address the discrepancy.

Let's first understand, what is a skills gap in tech?

The tech skills gap refers to the discrepancy between an individual’s current skill set and the skills required by the industry for them to perform effectively in their role.

In tech, two primary segments particularly suffer from these gaps:

  • Fresh graduates who did not receive adequate practical skills from their universities.
  • Industry professionals that have not kept up with recent advancements or lack the skill set for more advanced roles.

An example of the skills gap in tech arises from the decreasing relevance of some programming languages and the increasing industry demand for others. Python, for instance, is one of the most popular languages in the tech world right now, while the relevance of C has declined noticeably.

Why is the skills gap alarming?

The skills gap can be exceptionally problematic for your organization’s hiring process. Let’s say you put up a job advertisement with many skill requirements – then fresh graduates may hesitate to apply altogether.

This leaves hiring managers with slim pickings. Moreover, the candidates who apply are more likely to be experienced professionals, which translates to higher salary expectations.

Conversely, if recruiters relax the requirements for a job role, then the odds of hiring an unfit candidate are high. This can cost your organization operational efficiency, as the recruit may struggle to handle the role’s requirements.

The takeaway here is to realize that failing to address the skills gap will only hurt your organization, both in its internal operations and hiring process. This is why formulating an effective strategy to close the employment gap is vital.

How do you identify skills gaps in tech?

Identifying skillset discrepancies, both in your existing team and in new recruits, is a crucial step towards closing the gap itself. A thorough skills gap analysis can help employers pinpoint skills discrepancies both in-house and in new recruits.

To identify skills gaps in new recruit, try answering the following questions:

  • What skills are required for employees to perform well in the concerned role?
  • Which significant skills does your typical pool of applicants lack? For example, let’s say you are looking to fill an entry-level position by hiring fresh graduates. Understand from which universities do you receive the most applicants? What is the most commonly held degree by these candidates? What skills do they need to perform well at entry-level positions?

Can you provide meaningful responses to these questions? If not, then it’s time to seek the answers out.

Performing a skills gap analysis for your in-house team is slightly more extensive than for new recruits. While conducting an in-house analysis, it’s beneficial to look beyond existing gaps and predict future ones too.

The hiring team should have a clear answer – Where do you see your company in five or even ten years from now? Then, depending on your answer, try to work out what skills and expertise your team needs to reach that point and incorporate relevant training in your strategy.

Beyond this, conducting a thorough skills gap analysis entails identifying weaknesses and productivity blocks within your organization. For example, if your development team is lagging in performance relative to your design team, this may indicate a gap in developer skills.

As an employer, the importance of SWOT analysis is likely ingrained in your general strategy, and it’s just as crucial for planning skills training. Start by conducting a skills gap assessment – you can do this with the help of technical assessment tests. An assessment test identifies both strengths and weaknesses so employers know what training to offer.

Never overlook the importance of:

  • Identifying weaknesses in employee skills
  • Keeping up to date with emerging trends and what new skills are required to execute them.
  • Identifying rising skills that can help take your organization to the next level.

These factors are essential to consider when formulating an effective strategy to fill the gap.

Challenges in addressing the skills gap in tech

If closing the gap was easy, then there wouldn’t be such a large gap across industries, to begin with. Unfortunately, there are many challenges that the tech industry and other sectors face in their efforts to fill the skill gap.

Earlier, we discussed how most organizations cannot feasibly address many factors contributing to the gap. Factors that are not feasible to address, at least not in their entirety, include gaps that occur due to education curricula or the coronavirus pandemic. Although partnering with institutions and universities can help tackle the skills gap if closing it all together is out of scope.

Where addressing the gap at a company level is concerned, employers face the following challenges:

  • Financial constraints. Investing in a rigorous training program may be feasible for large enterprises, but small businesses rarely have the capital.
  • Human resource constraints. Conducting skills gaps analysis, vetting new applicants, and planning or overseeing skills training requires time and personnel. Not every organization has the resources to spare.
  • Sub-optimal recruitment funnels. An optimized recruitment funnel streamlines the hiring process and helps recruiters find quality talent in less time and with fewer resources. Conversely, inefficient recruitment funnels invite poor hires and consequently widen the discrepancy within your organization.

While these challenges are indeed formidable, it’s quite practical and possible for recruiters to fill the skills gap within their organization. With the help of some effective strategies and creative solutions, even small business owners with limited resources can fill the gap within their company.

How tech employers can fill the skills gap?

Tech employers can approach the skills gap issue and its root cause by taking some strategic steps forward. Here’s a rundown of some of the most effective ways to address the gap.

1 – Collaborate with institutions

If hiring fresh graduates is part of your recruitment funnel, it’s worth addressing the gap at its root; the academic curriculum. Tech employers can work closely with universities to design programs and conduct workshops to provide students with necessary skills training. Thus, come hiring time, recruiters will have a more experienced candidate pool to choose from.

2 – Optimize your recruitment funnel

Hiring fresh graduates from a few designated universities may not always be on the table. So, if you’re a tech employer recruiting from a more diverse pool, how do you filter out the best talent?

The most reliable way to screen candidates based on their skill set is to use a tech assessment test. Tech skill assessment software like WeCP (We Create Problems) have libraries with thousands of technical interview questions to evaluate candidates for various skills.

After conducting a thorough skills gap analysis, recruiters can design a custom skills test with the help of an assessment platform. This helps the hiring managers screen out any candidates that lack the desired skill set.

Another way to increase the efficiency of your recruitment funnel is to diversify the pool of applicants by branching out. Of course, expanding your hiring outreach can be costly, but there are budget-friendly methods available.

Hiring distributed teams, for example, has gained significant traction following the COVID-19 pandemic. Recruiters can use video interview software or an all-in-one recruiting software like WeCP to conduct virtual pair programming interviews and hire tech talent remotely.

3 – Make your technology accessible

One particularly effective way to close the skills gap, which is sometimes overlooked, is to make your tech more accessible. Decreasing the learning curve makes it easier for new hires to integrate into your team and translates into a narrower gap.

Making your tech more user-friendly in its design is one way to narrow the skills gap, but it isn’t always feasible. A promising alternative is to create a rich, interactive knowledge base to help new hires or prospective candidates acquire relevant skills.

We mentioned earlier that conducting skills training workshops can be costly. While developing a knowledge base also requires significant investment, the results are more sustainable. Creating a knowledge base, like guides, instructional videos, or even a custom course, is a one-time effort.

Unlike workshops that are conducted routinely, a knowledge base needs to be created once and then updated over time. This makes it a more cost-effective solution in the long run.

4 – Direct your efforts in-house

Did you know that Amazon is investing $700 million to reskill and upskill a third of its US workforce? And why shouldn’t they? After all, if your own workforce has the potential to take up more complex roles with the right training, then upskilling can be far more cost-effective and rewarding than hiring new employees.

Aside from the potential financial benefits, upskilling your own workforce comes with its share of advantages. Employers are already familiar with the work ethic, potential, skill set, cultural fit, and ambition of their existing workforce. Moreover, conducting a skills gap analysis in-house is relatively easy, especially with the help of tech skills assessment tests.

Thus, employers are in a strong position to pinpoint which employees have the most potential to assume senior roles. And by conducting a thorough skill analysis, you’ll know exactly what training to provide your workforce with. All-in-one tech recruiting software are a cost-effective solution to conduct upskilling programs for your tech talent. WeCP (We Create Problems), for example, not only facilitates upskilling but also helps employers find in-house skills gaps.

Final Word

The skills gap can seem quite daunting, but like every other challenge that tech organizations face, there are practical ways to deal with the problem. The most important takeaway from what we’ve just discussed is to remain proactive about closing the skills gap.

This entails devising a formal strategy to address the gap and utilizing the best practices to close it. But, of course, practical implementation of these may not always be easy or feasible. That’s why you might want to consider using an all-in-one tech recruitment platform.

WeCP | We Create Problems is an industry-leading tech recruitment platform that helps employers proactively tackle the skills gap. With remote hiring features, a library of over 0.2-million skills assessment questions, and tools for upskilling your team, WeCP helps tech organizations build their ideal teams.

Take a virtual tour with us to learn more about how WeCP helps close the skills gap and optimize your recruitment funnel. Schedule a demo today.


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