When asked what keeps them up at night, many businesses will highlight the global labour shortage and the pressing need for digital transformation. When the two are combined, a significant issue emerges – the race to attract and retain technology talent.
Between 2020 and 2022, the number of both posted and closed jobs in technology has increased significantly on a global level. There were 102,756 jobs posted on 1 January 2020, which then climbed to 180,519 on 1 July 2022, showing that the calls for tech talent are steadily increasing.
Joey Jegerajan, chief technology officer for PwC Consulting in the UK and Europe, Middle East and Africa region, says: "The market for tech talent is accelerating. Research commissioned by PwC with the University of Salford has shown that, globally, nine out of ten roles where demand is increasing are technology roles. In [the UK’s] Manchester specifically, the number of technology jobs more than doubled in 2021.”
With recessions looming all over the world and ongoing strategy shifts taking place due to the impact of Covid-19, streamlining businesses to become efficient and robust is a key objective for many companies.
As a result, businesses are increasingly adopting new technologies and systems in a bid to stay ahead of the curve. Yet, for many, tech talent pools remain elusive. The need to not only locate talent with tech capabilities but also to retrain existing workers is a problem in need of a solution for companies looking to boost their agility.
Furthermore, for many well-established companies, the process of untangling long-standing legacy processes in favour of implementing tech solutions can be a long and difficult road. So what pitfalls should companies be looking to avoid when joining the tech race and where exactly is the tech talent?
Tech talent, please apply
When pinpointing where tech talent lives, it is useful to first highlight where the greatest number of tech jobs are.
According to figures from GlobalData, between July 2009 and August 2022 the US had by far the highest number of tech jobs listed with 45.81%, as shown in the graph above. In second place, India accounted for 13.2% and China was in third with 6.23%.
The US holding such a high percentage of listed tech jobs makes sense when it is considered that the top four companies for closed jobs between July 2019 and August 2022 were all US companies.
Despite holding the lion’s share of the listed job market, the US ranked fifth in growth across all posted jobs between July 2019 and 2022.
Ranked in first, second and third, the Philippines, India and China, respectively, have seen substantial growth in posted tech jobs, indicating a focused push towards implementing tech practices in business. Germany overtook the US on 1 July 2022 for fourth position highlighting the competitive and fast-paced playing field of tech talent.
However, it isn’t just about where the jobs are in 2022. For investors, an important element to unlocking tech talent is pinpointing where future talent pipelines might be.
The Global Innovation Index shows that, in 2020, Oman had the highest share of graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, with 46.1% of the country's total graduate talent pool. This indicates that Oman is serious about making itself an emerging location for businesses looking to hire tech talent.
More generally, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, along with Asia, dominated the top ten ranking, indicating that these areas are successfully cultivating future tech talent hotspots. Jegerajan highlights that the US and China also have large volumes of STEM students, with Poland also developing a notable tech talent hub through STEM graduates.
Ian West, partner and head of technology, media and telecommunications at KPMG UK, explains that for regions looking to cultivate tech talent, “there has to be a synergy between government, academia and businesses. Not just at colleges and universities, but even starting at secondary and primary school.”
What not to do in the tech race
With such a competitive space, West explains that it is easy for businesses and investors to stumble early on. He explains that "tech FOMO" (the fear of missing out) can cause businesses to make expensive mistakes in a bid to keep up with competitors.
West advises that companies looking to enjoy the benefits of adapting tech solutions should take a deep breath before laying down a comprehensive strategy.
“[Businesses should ask the questions] ‘what tech do we need? What exactly is our business?’ and ‘why are we investing in tech?’” he says. “Once you understand what your objective is then it becomes easier to understand what your tech talent requirements are.”
West explains that the desire to look outside of the business at what others are doing, combined with the pressures of not adapting quick enough, can lead business leaders to jump into investing in tech in a manner that doesn't suit their business strategy.
Another common mistake is to focus more on attracting talent, rather than creating it.
“A focus on mid-level workers [looking at] career switching, and training and opening up to a more diverse pool of talent, are critical to ensuring a faster pace of change and stimulating innovation and growth [at a company],” says Jegerajan. “A large proportion of jobs will be disrupted by digitisation and this creates an opportunity for this emerging new pool of potential talent to be reskilled.”
Looking out for diverse talent
When asked for tips in advertising tech jobs, West explains that using inclusive language is an important skill that is often forgotten.
“Think about the way in which you are seeking people. How are you wording the job spec?” he says. “[With tech], you have got to search the biggest pool possible and often job specs might be turning people off from diverse ethnic backgrounds, or people that want to only work certain hours, or people from certain geographies.”
Indeed, another key opportunity to exploit within the tech race is being open to employing a plethora of workers from across the world. West explains that a positive that was implemented by lessons learned during Covid-19 was the ability to work remotely.
“[By making your advert geographically open] there is a greater number of people that you can attract," says West. "In general, greater flexibility is more compelling for not just getting people to join you but in retaining them as well.”
While the race to find and retain tech talent looks set to continue to be a buzz topic in business, it comes with the dual challenge of implementing ever-evolving tech-based strategies.
While some countries, such as the US, have been quicker off the mark than others when it comes to cultivating a tech talent pool, the race to create a robust talent pipeline through STEM graduates sits firmly in MENA and Asia for the time being, making the issue and solution for tech talent a truly global one.