In the competition for tech talent, the continuing sentiment among IT leaders is how to overcome the growing skills gap. Despite job shifts in the tech industry, tech unemployment remained historically low; we see tech jobs opening up, yet we continue to operate in a tight labor market. As tech specialists are in-demand roles across all industry verticals, tech leaders are having to widen their scope and open up new avenues for finding professionals that match their skills needs.
Hiring for open positions by placing emphasis on skills has become one of those pathways.
Research Shows Skills-Based Tech Hiring Is Ramping Up
Even though traditional degree requirements are still common, recent studies and statistics show that skills-based tech hiring is gaining fast. Here are just a few supporting examples:
- “Almost half (45%) of recruiters on the site search for candidates based on specific skills, according to LinkedIn.(Source: ZDNet)”
- IBM notes that skills have somewhat of an expiration date; at the rate technology advances, skills become obsolete much more quickly. Therefore, access to reskilling and upskilling quickly will be more beneficial than long-term degree cycles.
- In 2022, ZDNet shared results from the Team’s annual Tech Work Report, noting: “To combat the significant loss of talented employees, 80% of surveyed executives said they would hire someone without a college degree to work at their company.”
And probably the biggest evidence to date comes from Big Tech itself, when Apple, IBM, Google, and Meta shared that they would hire tech candidates for many roles, including tech-based ones, even if they didn’t have a college degree.
Job Search Activity Shows Emphasis on Skills
While 104,000 bachelor’s degrees were attained in Computer and Information Sciences in 2020/2021, tech candidates are also opting for a different route than traditional education because new opportunities are presenting themselves.
For instance, in a LinkedIn multi-lingual analysis of job posts, Technology Information and Media-based job postings that DO NOT require a college degree are increasing 240% faster!
The same analysis shows that recruiter action is also evolving, with insight showing that LinkedIn Recruiter subscribers are 5x more likely to search for candidates on the platform by skills rather than degrees.
Why Does Skills-Based Tech Hiring Remove Barriers?
As one IBM leader noted, when we require college degrees, we potentially lock out 62% of candidates. For tech talent, that seems be a large untapped pool of potential workforce gamechangers.
Further, we know degrees in tech are held by members of underrepresented communities at a lower rate, precluding them from entering the tech workforce and limiting the ability to increase diversity in tech. By forcing degree requirements, we run the risk of perpetuating the lack of diversity and inclusion that the tech industry needs.
This same ideas holds true for representation of women as well, as the National Science Foundation claimed that “women earned only 18% of computer science degrees at the bachelor level in 2021.”
With the tech industry stagnant in growing women representation in tech, and in some spaces in decline, it’s an important subject to discuss. Leading industry expert for accelerating women in tech and Prosum alumni, Randi Levin shares that we must put measures into place to change this trend. Looking at creating more direct lines to tech careers by evolving our hiring requirements is a start.
Tech Roles Where Skills-Based Hiring Really Works
There are many roles in tech, especially foundational ones, that bootcamp programs and skills gained by certification processes can help candidates land a job faster to starting building valuable experience and helping companies with their tech deliverables. Once they are in a tech role, many professionals begin to add value to their organizations through the soft skills they are acquiring through on-the-job training and real-life experience in a working environment. This can set up candidates for success more quickly than waiting to enter the workforce. A candidate who is an innate problem-solver and quick to collaborate in order to deliver on a project is an asset to an IT department because of their drive, willingness to learn and ability to adapt, filling the tech skills gaps that many organizations continue to face. Here are some roles where this skills-based hiring model is a benefit:
While many system admins might start with a degree in something like computer science, with requirements and new systems hitting the market so fast, its incumbent on the admin to remain up-to-date on what’s new and that means skills-based training to help advance their careers.
Development (Web, Mobile, Software)
Like the above, new technologies emerge frequently when it comes to languages, tools, platforms. Developers are hard-pressed to ramp up quickly and attain as many skills under the belt as possible to stay marketable and this includes online learning programs, self-learning and crash coding courses.
Technology Support Roles (Help Desk, Technicians, Analysts)
There is an abundance of training programs for foundational technology skills that allow a tech professional to bring value to an organization and continue to grow on the job. In these roles, many professionals learn by inter-departmental interaction as well as by working with customers, allowing them to refine their skills in a way that is difficult to teach in a traditional educational setting.
Cybersecurity jobs are expected to grow by 32% yet are consistently listed in the top 3 of hard-to-fill jobs because of the sheer demand. The good news is that IT leaders can build their tech security workforces more quickly by evolving their requirements. Many cybersecurity functions do not often require a formal college degree as they can specialized in the solutions that are applied. Professionals who have completed cybersecurity certifications, special training and targeted programs are a go-to source to fill these roles.
Building a Skills-Based Strategy With Your IT Staffing Partner
For hiring companies, the best way to evolve your hiring strategy is through the help of a trusted IT staffing firm that knows the market and knows the candidates. By working closely with the recruiters and account executives on what specific roles entail, hiring managers will receive a thorough, thought-out candidate profile that lists the essential skills and requirements that will solve for a tech need.
This could look differently for each role and could include cross-over skills or transferrable skills that may not be so apparent but would get the job done. Allowing flexibility with requirements, hiring companies then open up their access to talent that might not have been available before in order to build their workforce faster than they expected.