It’s not going to get easier, folks. The talent gap that we’re facing in today’s workforce, specifically in tech and engineering, is going to get wider and wider with no end in sight.
First, let’s examine why: well, it’s all the baby boomers fault. They created an economy based on how many of them became educated in tech and engineering upon entering the workforce. They were the first generation in American History where a large majority of them had professional careers that required certain education and skills. Their parents before them were mostly, farmers, ranchers, factory workers, etc. They created this economy, simply by have so many of them.
The burden of sustaining that economy and growing it falls to Generation X and millennials. And there aren’t as many of us to fill the jobs that the generation before us created. You don’t hear people talk about that much as a reason for shifting towards a more global economy, or for why we haven’t had the economic growth that we saw in the 80s and 90’s; but it’s real and a challenge we get to face every day.
Now, what’s the answer? With every challenge lies an opportunity. We’re responding to that talent gap in a couple different ways.
Creativity and efficiency is key; companies are figuring out how to get the most out of their talent and do more with less. For example, 5 years ago in a company, you might have had a VP of Product Strategy and a VP of Marketing. Now, you might see those roles combined into a VP of Product Marketing that covers both with the right team executing product management and marketing. Same with software engineering where developers are doing both back-end and front-end. Again, creativity and efficiency.
Personally, I’m a big fan of diversity and the global workplace. Companies that have embraced talent from all over the world are paving the way in bridging the gap. Whether its outsourcing development, or sponsoring work visas, or encourage your existing talent to visit other countries to recruit more talent! It doesn’t matter where you come from; one thing I’ve seen over the years is talent attracts talent; they just want to be together.
Now we do have outstanding talent right here in our own backyard, and I don’t want you to think that it’s not good enough and that’s why we need to go global. Again, it goes back to the numbers. We need more talent; simple as that. Other countries are encouraging people from all over the world to work inside their borders, and we need to as well to remain competitive.
My last suggestion is to work better to develop the talent we have. The millennial generation is extremely capable and their capacity to learn quickly is unlike any generation before them. When you have stars, do everything you can to keep them. Listen to what they have to say and let’s work to create a continuous environment of learning. Retention is extremely important, and they want to be in an environment that suits their unique needs, but also one where they are constantly challenged. We can develop better as a community, and we’ll benefit more by making that a priority!