Tech Talent Trend: Hiring Eased, Upskilling in Limelight

Ongoing global economic uncertainty is impacting technical hiring strategies. Given the persistent financial challenges, more organizations are revising their hiring plans by freezing new positions.

However, the demand for skilled tech talent remains strong, particularly in newer areas such as cloud and containers, cybersecurity, and AI/ML.

More organizations plan to increase rather than decrease their technical staff. According to the latest jobs market research, training, and upskilling are essential strategies for organizations looking to address the changing hiring landscape.

Last month, Linux Foundation Training & Certification and Linux Foundation Research announced the release of the “2023 State of Tech Talent Report: Acquiring and Retaining Technical Talent in 2023” at Open Source Summit North America.

The report highlights that 70% of the more than 400-plus hiring managers of organizations surveyed provide training opportunities for their existing technical staff on new technologies, demonstrating a commitment to ongoing development and growth.

Upskilling is becoming more important for recruitment, with organizations choosing to train existing employees more often than hiring consultants when they cannot find suitable external candidates. This trend recognizes the value of investing in existing staff and the challenges of finding qualified external candidates, according to researchers.

Certifications and testing are becoming necessary tools for organizations to verify the skills of potential candidates. That said, Clyde Seepersad, SVP and GM of Linux Foundation Training & Certification avoided answering if the state of tech talent is better or worse this year over previous years.

“The long-term growth trends for the profession and the professional remain strong. Even though we have seen some challenges in the sector, organizations and professionals are taking smart steps to keep things in balance,” he instead told LinuxInsider.

Role Shifts, Skills Verification

More than half of the 400-plus organizations reported revising hiring plans due to economic conditions. However, those revisions often include headcount reductions or hiring freezes in one or more areas while simultaneously increasing hiring in others, offered Seepersad.

The key takeaway is a positive outlook for hiring in the tech industry. Many organizations plan to increase their technical headcount in the coming years. There is an ongoing demand for skilled technical talent, especially at the more entry-level positions for professionals with developer skills, he explained.

An interesting finding is a shift in the types of technical roles organizations are filling, emphasizing developers and IT management roles over senior technical jobs. This change suggests that organizations seek skilled individuals who can contribute to project implementation, management, and technological development.

Respondents expressed that certification and pre-employment testing are necessary to verify skills to address the challenges of finding the right candidate. These measures are beneficial in assuring organizations recruit individuals who are apt for the roles. Further, they provide potential candidates with a clear understanding of the skills they must demonstrate to succeed in the position.

“For more than a decade, the tech training industry has been saying that upskilling the talent you have is essential to building and retaining strong tech teams. And while training has always been offered as a retention tool, new hires and consultants were almost always seen as the best way to bring new skills into an organization,” said Seepersad.

Tech Certifications Outpace College Degrees

The tech talent report shows upskilling and new hires essentially on par with each other as approaches to support introducing new technologies and the skills needed to manage them. Three factors are driving this directional shift:

  • Tech talent will remain in short supply for the foreseeable future.
  • Onboarding is time-consuming, while turnover remains high.
  • Recruiting fees are high, and timelines to get candidates into open roles are measured in months, not days.

Coincidentally, HR managers and their organizations face three key takeaways they need to know to remain competitive, Seepersad said of the report’s analysis:

  • Almost one out of every three (29%) new hires depart within six months of being onboarded.
  • Upskilling is an essential strategy for all organizations, whether used to help mitigate the impact of reduced headcount or to acquire needed skills and knowledge.
  • Training and certifications are increasingly more important than a university education because they provide a means to demonstrate current, proven skills and knowledge.

2023 State of Tech Talent infographic

Source: 2023 State of Tech Talent Report. Copyright 2023 The Linux Foundation.

“This third point is key for technical professionals as well. We clearly see that employers are looking for certified professionals rather than college degrees because certifications assure an employer that the individual has the technical skills for the job,” he reasoned.

How To Meet Tech Hiring Challenges

For the tech industry to improve the ongoing talent shortages, companies need to be creative in their approach to hiring. They also must consider alternative solutions to overcome the challenges posed by the current tech talent shortage, recommended Seepersad.

“While it is tempting to rely solely on external recruitment efforts to address the shortage, the data suggests this won’t be enough,” he observed.

Organizations must employ alternative approaches such as upskilling existing employees, offering increased salaries, improving work/life balance, and providing opportunities to work on open-source projects to attract and retain top talent more successfully.

“The sooner senior management accepts and embraces these alternatives to traditional hiring practices, the better the situation will be for tech professionals, HR managers, and their organizations,” suggested Seepersad.

Additionally, organizations should commit resources to the long-term development of talent. He added that they can achieve this goal by getting involved with their communities and supporting organizations that help cultivate and grow young talent.

Tech Growth Hinges on Talent Strategy

The tech industry will continue to operate in an increasingly volatile and complex world, according to Seepersad.

Remaining — or becoming — a strong technological organization, regardless of your business, requires having the right talent. That requires a thoughtful mix of solutions to recruit, verify, retain, and grow that talent.

“To succeed for the medium- and long-term, all solutions, including ongoing learning and development, should be on the table,” he concluded.

Jack M. Germain

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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