In recent years, there’s been a significant shortage of IT talent in the US. At least for the foreseeable future, things are not expected to improve.
This can be attributed to the fact that every business across industries is now becoming a tech company.
According to Indeed, the software development job market in the US faces a shortage of approximately 472,000 tech professionals. That means that almost 9 out of 10 organizations are struggling to put bodies in seats.
According to the Coding Sans report, State of Software Development 2018, hiring software engineers was the second most common problem faced by as much as 23.84% of respondents. Fierce competition within this space has sent salaries skyrocketing with top tech talent going to the highest bidder.
So how do startups and SMEs compete?
More often than not, companies tend to pile on additional responsibilities on already overworked software engineers. This is a dangerous predicament as it could lead to burnout, mistakes, or even active job searches on company computers.
But on the flip side of the coin, not pursuing your business goals or delaying your time to market can also lead to business irrelevance.
What Are the Other Reasons Behind the Tech Talent Shortage?
1. Lack of STEM Graduates
When it comes to STEM education, the US has fallen behind. Even today, there aren’t many students pursuing an education in a STEM-related field.
According to a study conducted by Microsoft, 88% of the teachers surveyed stated that coding is vital to ensuring their students’ future success in the workplace. Yet, as much as 30% of teachers felt under-qualified to prepare their students for a digital future.
At the same time, 75% of the teachers surveyed stated that the government wasn’t doing enough to equip schools with the right tools to develop these skills.
What’s the Solution?
Both the government and large corporations need to be proactive and lay the foundation to improve the situation. While it won’t make a difference in the short-term, it certainly will in the long-term.
For example, the UK government is already taking steps to bridge the STEM education gap with a £170 million investment in 12 institutes of technology. The US government should do the same to secure future economic development.
2. Limited In-House Training
When you’re struggling to hire tech talent, your current employees will be overloaded with work and won’t have time to update their skills. However, it’s imperative for businesses to take time out and invest in their employees.
What’s the Solution?
Encouraging your staff to update their skills and learn new things will not only help to meet present and future demands of the business but also help build loyalty. After all, in a fiercely competitive job market, the last thing you want is an unhappy employee.
So while it will slow things down and decrease your output, it’s important to ensure that employees find the time to learn and grow.
3. Immigration Policies
Since US President Donald Trump came to power, the overhaul of immigration policies has driven the best non-American talent to other parts of the world. As more restrictions are applied to H-1B visas, one of the key benefactors has been the neighbor up North.
What’s the Solution?
As there won’t be an immediate solution to this problem, large corporations should lobby the government to embrace a robust immigrant worker program. In fact, it will be critical if the US wants to continue to dominate this space.
4. Focusing on the Impossible
While it might sound strange, the reality on the ground is that companies tend to go overboard and try to develop new technologies employing Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), or Data Science.
But although these fields are rapidly evolving, they are still at their infancy. As a result, you have to just come to terms with the fact that there aren’t enough suitable candidates around to hire. Some startups and leading brands have to put these projects on hold (for a few years at least) since they don't have deep pockets to match the likes of Amazon or Google.
What’s the Solution?
If new technologies like AI and ML are imperative to stay competitive, enterprises can certainly expand their search radius. This means looking beyond your city, state, and even national borders to fill the talent gaps.
In the digital age, remote working and outsourcing have quickly become the norm. With the communication and collaboration tools available today, it shouldn’t be difficult to lead a team of developers spread out across the planet.
However, if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of HR and remotely managing individual professionals, you can partner with an established outsourcing provider who can do it for you.
Mexico – a Thriving Tech Hub Just South of the Border
In recent years, Mexico has grown into a thriving tech hub that’s home to large tech companies like Facebook and Google. It also boasts a booming startup scene that’s being supported by the government’s Innovation Department.
State’s like Jalisco share a similar time zone to Silicon Valley and is built on the foundation of a strong STEM education system and a robust infrastructure. If we take Guadalajara (Mexico’s second largest city), for example, you’ll find some of the best universities in Latin America.
These include the following (that boast highly reputable technology programs):
- University of Guadalajara (Mexico’s second largest university)
- Monterrey Institute of Technology
- Universidad Panamerican
It’s an important fact to consider as academic institutions in Mexico produce more STEM graduates per capita than the US.
Guadalajara alone boasts 40% of Mexico’s tech industry with about 650 specialized companies in the state creating over 100,000 jobs for the 7.9 million people who live in Jalisco. With the average age hovering around 25 years, Mexico can prove to be a long-term nearshoring option.
Unlike other parts of the world, Mexican tech talent wants to stay there. So you can also count on working with the same professionals over a long period of time.