The Developer Shortage Crisis Could Devastate The Tech Workforce. Here’s Why.


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If you work in technology, you’ve probably seen the headlines bemoaning the ongoing development developer shortage. The demand for qualified developers has increased steadily in recent years, but the supply has not been able to keep up. The International Data Corporation (IDC) has forecast a global deficit four million developers by 2025. If we don’t act now, the global talent shortage could $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenue through 2030.

So what can we do about it?

I recently attended the SXSW festival in Austin and chaired a panel with industry leaders from Salesforce, Morgan Stanley and Estée Lauder to explore this question. As the conversation progressed, it became clear that our solutions need to go beyond setting up a stronger job fair at the top universities. To combat the developer shortage, the entire industry needs to make a paradigm shift and put diversity, education and politics at the forefront to bring about change and secure the future of all technology-enabled companies. ChatGPT will only get us so far.

Unlock new talent pools

The tech industry has primarily drawn candidates from the same limited talent pool for decades. The problem is that this pool doesn’t reflect the diversity of the world around us. 62% of all technicians are white and 75% are male. Tapping into this extremely limited and homogeneous talent pool has left the industry in a quandary. Companies are unable to fill vacancies, yet there are large groups of people who are excluded from the industry. What would the developer shortage look like if we expanded our talent pools to better include women, people of color, world workers, people with disabilities, and ex-convicts?

We cannot continue to return to the same empty pot and expect gold to suddenly appear. We can’t expect to find 4 million new developers from the same pool by 2025.

As leaders, we need to consider groups that we may have rejected based on old prejudices and ask ourselves, “How can we unlock new talent pools?”

Related Topics: 4 reasons why low-code tools will never replace software developers

Use non-traditional methods

Nurturing a new generation of developers means companies must implement unconventional methods to identify and attract talent.

First, look at your job descriptions – are they accessible to people from unconventional backgrounds? away with Degree Requirements and develop job descriptions that focus less on qualifications and more on the skills needed to succeed in the role. In addition, you will train hiring managers and recruiters to debunk their biases and identify transferrable skills in a candidate’s application.

Skills can be taught, but passion and creativity are much more difficult to develop. You can usually upskill an employee in weeks or months, but behavior change takes years at best. Don’t let false requirements like a four-year degree stand in the way of hiring someone who could bring an important perspective to your team.

We should also think about how we can adapt our workflows to promote inclusion and belonging. For example, the spread of remote work has opened up many opportunities for people with a physical disability. Before the pandemic, many workplaces would not consider an applicant if they could not come to the office. Going forward, we need to educate ourselves about other areas of our work that may unintentionally exclude and adjust accordingly so that everyone has an opportunity to contribute. Leaders and teams have a lot to learn to properly involve everyone.

Related Topics: How freelance software developers are bridging the skills gap

Foster the talent pool

If we only seek out talent when we need it, we’ll likely fall back on old prejudices and hire the first developer who meets all of our needs. Organizations have a responsibility to actively build and nurture an expanded talent pool through education, training and support.

Organizations need to invest STEM education outside of the traditional and expensive four-year course. What can we do as a company to expand access to technical training and accreditation? At Salesforce, they work with schools to provide access to computers and coding courses, and to introduce technology to students as early as possible. There are also programs like Microsoft’s Acceleratewhich provides free courses and resources to underserved communities to provide them with the necessary skills to participate in the technology sector.

However, education alone is not enough. My company recently partnered with a nonprofit and higher education institution in Brazil to help underserved communities access technology jobs. Even though these students graduated with a computer science degree — while also holding a full-time job in another field — many were still reluctant to apply for a tech job or even create a LinkedIn profile. We quickly realized the importance of bridging the hard skills they learned in class with the soft skills they need to get a job, including networking, interviewing and exploring opportunities. Getting the degree is one thing, but if someone doesn’t know how to use it in the job market, they won’t get very far.

In the question section of the panel, a student and young entrepreneur asked how companies can incentivize and promote developer boot camps for young people. He suggested focusing on community-centric approaches — going into underserved communities and providing educational resources. We shouldn’t expect people to come to us, we have to make the effort to reach them.

It is up to us to create holistic solutions for each step of the pipeline while providing the necessary structure, support and emotional security fringe groups apply for tech jobs with confidence.

Related Topics: Why low-code platforms are the solution to the developer shortage that isn’t being talked about

Act as an ecosystem

There is a visibility gap in the developer industry, not a talent gap. By seeking unconventional and creative approaches to identifying and assessing talent, we can help our organizations spot the talent they feel is missing.

We need to find solutions that help nurture and develop talent from the start, and network more closely in initiatives with nonprofits that partner with underserved communities to create solutions that work for and with them.

Most importantly, if we compete to develop talent, we will all fail. The challenge at hand requires that we scale and scale properly. We need to work together to build an ecosystem with partners across all industries – including those we may see as competitors.

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