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In The Battle For Tech Talent, Look In, Not Out

Nancy Xiao is the CEO of Mason, innovator of the fastest way to take smart devices from idea to end user.

The battle for tech talent is here to stay. With historical tech company valuations come an influx of talent needs. Companies are scrambling to fill positions to hit new growth trajectories and targets brought on by the increase in fundraising activity. Yet this comes at a crossroads with where the numbers have tracked: 69% of employers struggled to fill positions in 2020, a significant increase from 14% in 2010. To make matters worse, the Great Resignation incited a wave of employee attrition and turnover—a staggering 66% of working Americans considered making a career change during the height of the pandemic.

Even prior to the pandemic-driven shifts in how, when and with whom we work, the tech labor market was already struggling to keep up with the pace of technological innovation. One way to address the growing skills gaps amidst a tightening market for technical talent is to double down on empowering existing employees to upskill so organizations can source internally.

Promoting internal growth paves a way for stronger retention, and reduces potential loss of knowledge transfer. To tackle worsening labor shortages, I anticipate organizations will embrace these key strategies to reskill and upskill their employees.

1. Provide training experience employees can get their hands on.

Organizations will increasingly begin to leverage tools such as augmented and virtual reality alongside mixed reality to introduce better professional development programs and training modules. These tools can help employees practice and learn new skills with hands-on training before implementing them on new projects or roles.

AR, VR and mixed reality platforms can also identify user behavior and access a plethora of learning materials, creating personalized learning pathways for each employee’s specific learning styles and addressing specific competency gaps.

2. Empower team members to focus on higher-value projects by leveraging automation.

More companies will evaluate how automation can reduce repetitive, manual tasks that take valuable time away from skilled employees. Implementing automation to take on these menial tasks and complement or augment employee projects is beneficial for leaders and employees alike.

Automation makes it possible for business leaders to grant their teams greater capacity and bandwidth to hone in on new skills, grow in technical proficiencies and strategize on how to utilize existing technologies for future projects. By enabling employees to take on higher-value projects, employers can effectively drive company-wide benefits and fill more gaps in the labor force.

3. Offer more opportunities for career and talent development.

While upskilling and reskilling employees can benefit the organization itself, the rewards don’t stop there. It’s no secret that employees highly value the chance to take on new challenges in the workplace and supplementary training programs. In fact, 74% of workers are willing to learn new skills to remain employable, and 76% find companies that offer additional training for staff more appealing.

Taking actionable steps to invest in the growth and improvement of employees’ technical skill sets and business acumen can help companies create a pipeline of competitive talent that is suitable to advance to more senior roles within the company. This also opens up opportunities for diverse talent to grow and explore new domains.

By implementing structured learning programs and investing in their existing talent, leaders can also maximize their employees’ potential and productivity and experience better retention outcomes. Investing in the workforce is a two-way game: It enforces the talent that companies are looking for and shows employees that they’re trusted to take on new opportunities.

As the world works toward building a post-pandemic future, especially in the face of increasing attrition rates and a greater distributed workforce, it’s time to reimagine traditional career structures to promote multidisciplinary skill sets and bring higher value to organizations and individuals. In the coming years, businesses will see just how much automation and mixed reality can play a hand in creating a flexible, dynamic workforce that will begin to close the skills gap.