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Even if many companies have hiring freezes and vacation days, big tech is growing. Google, Apple and Facebook in particular are collecting talent in droves.
As the director of a non-profit that offers free computer programming training, I'm always looking for ways to place students in apprenticeships and help them find their first jobs in technology. I keep an ear to the ground when it comes to the attitude landscape. And I suspect that hiring the tech giants could create big problems for almost everyone else.
Facebook alone wants to hire 10,000 new employees. Given that around 70,000 computer science graduates join the workforce each year, this is a significant portion of the technical talent available. Smaller businesses and businesses in smaller cities may never have felt threatened by the big dogs, but the job market will tighten for everyone.
When the world moved to remote working in response to the pandemic, tech giants like Facebook and Twitter followed suit, allowing them to recruit more widely across the country. Smaller cities are viable targets for drawing talent from the big players.
Overall, the effects of this global crisis have left the tech industry relatively unscathed. CompTIA's May Employment Data Analysis, published by the United States' Bureau of Labor Statistics, found that less than 1 percent of the country's 12.1 million technicians have lost their jobs. This is because, with more businesses working from home, the country is relying more than ever on technology and the internet. Organizations need IT staff to facilitate the relocation.
Related Topics: Using Virtual Recruiting Technology to Retain Top Talent
In addition, companies in all industries, such as small retailers and local restaurants, have completely relocated their businesses online for the first time as they stay at home. The current moment and the time after the pandemic lead to an even greater dependence on digital resources. The demand for technical talent will continue to grow, but the talent gap will remain. And since big tech companies hire in bulk, it's only going to expand. Smaller businesses need to look for new hiring strategies to stay competitive.
How smaller businesses need to rethink their hiring strategies
The good news for smaller businesses in need of engineering roles is that only 70,000 computer science graduates enter the market each year. However, there are more ways than ever to learn technical skills outside of the college or university lane. In the past few months, which have disrupted the education and training industry, more people are learning new skills online than ever before.
As you tackle the workforce challenges for the months and years ahead, keep these three strategies in mind to ensure you have the technical skills you need to compete:
1. Identify opportunities to qualify existing employees
If you find that you need more technical skills to meet the new digital demands of your industry, first take a look at your existing workforce. Instead of spending the time and money hiring, look for opportunities to qualify employees who are interested in a more technical career path and who have demonstrated ability to learn. For example, someone in an administrative role who quickly adapted to working remotely might be a good candidate for a scrum master or project management role. If you're unable to train employees in-house, consider partnering.
Related Topics: How to Recruit and Hire the Best Remote Workers
The Guardian Life Insurance Company recognized the need to improve the technical skills of their employees in order to be able to effectively use the health data of customers generated by new technologies such as Fitbit monitors and in-home sensors. In cooperation with the General Assembly, actuaries were equipped with new digital skills through practical workshops and bootcamps. By showing that you are invested in the professional development of your people, you can also create the kind of culture that is essential for attracting and retaining top talent.
2. Diversify your recruiting efforts
Attitudes are generally picking up again. When the pandemic finally subsides and companies are hiring in full force, most will be looking for talent in the same places. Look for graduates from Coding Boot Camps and other alternative qualification programs, or target yourself to self-taught learners rather than the recent college graduates. This crisis has shown that online learning is not only possible. It is a crucial part of young people's development today.
The IBM talent acquisition team has set itself the goal of targeting so-called “new collar” workers in order to strengthen the 360,000 employees. The company has developed a robust learning program for people inside and outside the company who are interested in learning new technical skills. Participants receive digital badges as they complete various stages of training, and the program enables potential employees to demonstrate competence and initiative – two qualities that every company expects from its employees.
Looking beyond traditional educational institutions, you can draw on a pool of people who have valuable life and work experience and a proven ability to learn new skills.
3. The institute's apprentice models
The training allows less experienced entry-level technologists to work with your team in a way that minimizes risk and maximizes skill development. In addition, you can design a trainee to fit highly specific roles in your company.
Related: Why Now is the Perfect Time to Rethink Talent and Leadership
Targeted programs, like my nonprofit's apprenticeship training, can work in partnership with companies to help onboard students who have the potential for technical careers for specific roles. Employees receive specialized on-the-job training as apprentices so you know they have the knowledge and skills to meet your technical needs. While the risk associated with hiring entry-level positions is relatively small compared to higher-level positions, apprenticeship training can help ensure that candidates are as close to your company as possible.
For top tech companies, recruiting skills are a serious competitive advantage. If you are serious about competing for talent in the post-crisis world, you need to take advantage of the alternative recruitment channels that are available to all, but for the most part underutilized. In this way, you can build a workforce that is not only equipped for today's challenges, but is also ready to innovate for all of tomorrow's challenges.
Related: Upskill And Learn: The Newer Ways of Employee Transformation