Slim Pickins' in the Tech Talent Pool
A good tech man or woman is hard to find, according to "Technology Executive Connections: Successful Strategies for Talent Management," a report released today from PricewaterhouseCoopers. The study finds that competition for highly skilled employees in the technology industry has never been fiercer, and most executives believe that this crisis is only going to become more severe in the coming years. As it is impossible for technology companies to create a larger supply of talented prospects, it is important for companies to better manage, retain, and nurture existing in-house talent.
The report states, "It's too simple to say that competition for talent is intensifying. It's not purely a numbers game today, but a contest for quality. Executives today are beginning to experience a painful scarcity for the essential employee: that talented, technically-savvy individual who can collaborate and manage change."
Scott Pollak, a director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, sites heavy growth in hiring in the tech industry over the past three years as a large contributor to the new talent drought. Additionally, he believes the shortage is happening to some extent in every industry. "There is an underlying need to determine how to better leverage workforce investment." Of the 153 technology executives surveyed for the report, 71 percent believed competition for talent to be more challenging in their industry than others. About half (45 percent) of executives reported tech talent to be either scarce or very scarce. In recent years many have looked to offshoring and outsourcing to fill in this gap, but those choices have not eased the shortage, according to the respondents. Forty-one percent of reported having difficulty finding tech talent in emerging markets, and 48 percent said that they ran into problems retaining this talent.
Although technology executives argued for the importance of investing in ways to harvest better technology talent, most execs professed an inadequacy in this investment company-wide. Eight percent of respondents said their companies' programs "very adequately" provide training for senior executives, 11 percent gave their companies high marks for addressing quality collaboration, and 14 percent said their companies did a good job at providing career development to all levels of the organization. The report asserts that the establishment of these career development practices must come from a managerial level.
Companies will put more resources into getting the best out of existing employees to best combat the skill level shortage, according to the study. Three-quarters of respondents said that this would be their top strategy, followed by recruitment from competitors (50 percent), outsourcing (49 percent), and recruitment from top schools (48 percent). The report finds that more companies are using tools like talent maps to properly answer the call for in-house investment. "The [marketing] idea that it's cheaper to keep a customer than to get a new customer--we see that type of thinking happening in the workforce itself," Pollack says. Becoming smarter and more metrics-based about employee management and quality will be crucial for the technology industry in the upcoming years, argues the report, which provides a final warning to all technology executives: "It is a near certainty that one or more of your competitors is spending large amounts of money, time and effort to enhance their human capital management."
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