With the global shift to remote work, tech efforts were accelerated last year as organisations worldwide grappled with the transition to a largely virtual work model. Now, over a year into the pandemic, the tech and IT professionals - many of whom powered and enabled such rapid digital transformation - are taking stock of how they are currently feeling in terms of mental wellbeing, skills gaps, learning opportunities and more.
In the last month, two separate reports were released that specifically address the experience of workers in these industries and give insight into various aspects of the tech workers’ reality over the last year. The CNBC Technology Executive Council (TEC) survey was released last week and gives an overview of insights gathered from 85 leaders in the tech industry. The 2021 Harvey Nash Group Technology & Talent Survey gathered responses from 1700 tech professionals over the last year. Together, these two reports give an overall impression of a sector that has been changed profoundly by the events of the last twelve months - in good ways and bad - and how the challenges and opportunities thrown up by the pandemic are only just beginning for tech and IT professionals.
Tech employers are recruiting differently for in-demand jobs
Last week, CNBC released their quarterly survey of members of the Technology Executive Council (TEC). The results show there has been a shift in how companies are recruiting for tech talent - and the challenges they face while doing so are changing as well. Last year, over half of respondents to the same survey said it had become harder to find and recruit skilled tech talent. In the Q1 2021 survey, however, this number had dropped to 30%, suggesting more organisations were actually finding it easier to find and recruit talent for open positions. This may be due to an increase in different hiring and recruiting practices, with many businesses moving away from searching for the traditional candidate and looking to alternative pools to find great people.
For example, over half of tech executives have reportedly hired workers without a college degree and 72% of respondents said they’re hiring internal candidates from non-technology teams. The same proportion (72%) of tech executives also said they are recruiting candidates with a liberal arts degree. Some respondents are even eliminating certain degree requirements on job descriptions which formerly would have been non-negotiable. Similarly, many tech executives are rewriting job descriptions and advertisements to reflect changes. Many are even including remote or hybrid work specifications, which may encourage people to apply from anywhere.
The ‘war for tech talent’ continues
While some respondents to the CNBC TEC survey say it is less challenging to recruit qualified applicants now compared to a year ago, finding the right people for the job remains a persistent challenge for tech companies. Overall, 44% of tech executives say finding sufficient numbers of certified workers to take up open positions in the upcoming twelve months. As well as rewriting job descriptions/titles (42%) and eliminating certain degree requirements (24%), other approaches to bridging the skills gap these tech companies are taking include on-the-job training programs (61%), building apprenticeship programs (39%) to tailor learning and help employees garner the skills they need.
Salaries increase, but so do workloads and mental health concerns
According to the Harvey Nash Group Technology & Talent Study, over half (55%) of global IT professionals say their workload has increased over the last year. Of the 1700 tech workers surveyed, 36% said they had received a salary increase during this time, but 28% noted that they were concerned about the state of their mental health.
This represents a 75% increase on the number who said the same in last year’s Harvey Nash study. However, the vast majority (80%) of respondents say their company has offered support for their mental health during this time. Furthermore, the majority of respondents (63%) said they are ‘happy’ in their current jobs. Part of this happiness could be down to the rise in freedom and flexibility found in working from home: 75% of IT professionals said they would prefer to work from home 3-5 days a week after the pandemic, while around a quarter (23%) would like to work from home full-time, five days a week.
Commenting on the findings, Bev White, chief executive of Harvey Nash said “technology professionals have played a key role throughout the pandemic, supporting organizations in the massive push for home working and helping them adapt their business models in response to the crisis. But it's been quite a journey. There have been long days, rising workloads and rapidly changing objectives. It's no wonder that mental health is struggling.”
However, White also said that it was encouraging to see more organisations “put support measures into place,” while there was certainly still work to be done in this area. “The remote world post-COVID needs new models of employer care and support - the organizations that do best in this will create a significant advantage in attracting and retaining tech talent,” White added.
Whatever the future holds for the world’s tech workforce, it seems certain the tech recruitment and talent acquisition landscape will be shaped by the events of the last twelve months and organisations that can offer support, flexible work-from-anywhere arrangements and competitive salaries will be able to hold onto the top talent for in-demand roles.