Reskilling returns as a focus in a tight tech talent workforce - Technical.ly

Company Culture

May 3, 2021 7:21 am

Reskilling returns as a focus in a tight tech talent workforce

On the hiring manager side, that includes talent retention via investing in existing employees, and attraction, which could include courting bootcamp grads. Here's more from Technical.ly’s latest Culture Builder newsletter.
Coding.

Coding.

(Photo by Flickr user WOCinTech Chat, used under a Creative Commons license)

Written by Technically Media CEO Chris Wink, Technical.ly’s new Culture Builder newsletter features tips on growing powerful teams and dynamic workplaces. Below is the latest edition we published. Sign up here to get the next one this Friday.


One of the most common emails I receive is the “how do I get into tech?” question.

Many want to sharpen their existing skills for a more dynamic part of the economy. Others are wholesale career changers — I really do know laid-off journalists who learned to code. All of them represent “reskilling,” which is a fancy way to say getting adults in-demand skills. This answers a very real need.

By 2030, the world will be short 85 million tech workers at a cost of $8.5 trillion in lost annual revenue, according to an influential report from Korn Ferry. Career changers are thought to be an important way to fill the 1 million open tech roles in the United States. This has fueled the rise of coding bootcamps, the first major wave in a future of reskilling and continuing education.

Fittingly this demand for tech workers has bid up salaries over the last 20 years, driving the changeover. Nine in 10 career changers reported they moved into tech at least in part because the money was better, according to 2019 research. This is what economic change looks like.

How much has the last year disrupted this demand for tech talent? I asked Anthony Hughes, the cofounder and CEO of Tech Elevator, which operates its coding bootcamp program in nine cities: “The short answer is ‘not much.”

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Hughes said the world seemed to stop in April 2020 but then, with clear exceptions, most tech employers got right back to growth. (This tracks with what I’ve seen in both Technical.ly’s reporting and from our clients.) Hughes said: “COVID has accelerated the digital transformation [already in place] and the need for tech workers.”

This continued demand amid economic destruction has brought big thinking about massive reskilling initiatives. It feels like quite an opportunity. Almost two-thirds of women considered making a career change in 2020, many pursuing more flexible work environments that have come to be associated with tech-adjacent work. “Diversifying teams does more than solve a shortage of workers, it also makes good business sense,” argued the World Economic Forum last year.

Macroeconomic trends aside, what does this mean for hiring managers? (To hear more tips and trends, join us Thursday, May 13, for Technical.ly’s Introduced conference, which has several recruiting sessions and is this year both entirely virtual and free.)

Reskilling can be split into two categories: talent retention and attraction.

Employers are wise to invest in their existing employees. That means both helping transition employees into higher-skilled positions (cloud hosting company Linode had lots of examples like this) and professional development to keep teammates sharp in their current roles.

“As you invest in their skills, those skills benefit your business, then you’re in a really good place,” said Hughes. “There’s just a very small cadre of employers who do that.”

Meanwhile, coding bootcamps are also in the business of “consumer reskilling,” helping professionals invest in themselves by taking a 14-week course and earning a 23% salary bump on average. This is the talent attraction bit. Helpfully many coding bootcamps champion their efforts at diversity.

If you’ve got your coding bootcamp contacts covered, remember the very point of career changers is that they can come from many different places. Tell the stories of great employees with unexpected backgrounds (I think often of the high school teacher turned Nava developer). Look at Technical.ly’s charming How I Got Here series.

I remember this D.C. event on how to improve the process for career changers. For one: Look for your own unique partnerships. Temple University’s College of Liberal Arts launched this year a geospatial data science degree program with career changers in mind. More like it are no doubt coming to answer continued market demand.

Now how do I respond to those emails asking about getting into tech work?

Get more specific than wanting to “work in tech.” To do that, dive into your local tech community’s vibrant event culture for calibration. Read Technical.ly, including helpful resources like these here. I take as many calls for more personal feedback as I can. “Welcome,” I tell them, “we need you.”

And now the links.

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P.S. Technical.ly will be addressing many of these topics at this year’s Introduced conference, happening during Philly Tech Week 2021 presented by Comcast. Register for free below.

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