Many industries are still finding it difficult to hire the right skilled talent to meet their business needs – and this shortage of tech talent isn’t a consequence of the possible recession. Laura Baldwin, President at O’Reilly shares her thoughts on how the recession will impact recruitment, the rise of tech skills and open roles and what soft skills tech professionals should focus on to succeed in 2023.
This will be a decades-long issue, and it’s only going to get worse in the near future, as the need for tech talent continues to grow and the gaps between the available supply and demand for these individuals are exacerbated. So leaders really need to be coming up with new solutions for how to manage it now. If we can’t hire the talent that we need, we need to invest in learning and development to train for the skills that will help our businesses succeed. There really isn’t an alternative.
Bottom line: Just because the economy may slow down, the speed of technical innovation will not. Companies that allow themselves to fall behind will come out of the recession in much worse condition than those that don’t.
Tech skills and open roles
The heart of the issue right now is supply and demand: there isn’t enough tech talent to go around for everyone trying to hire. (In a different labor market, of course, the supply of tech talent might outstrip demand—but that’s not a problem we’re likely to face any time soon.) Companies have various tech roles that they’re trying to fill and are struggling to find the right people despite the recent layoffs and hiring freezes happening across the tech industry.
This isn’t to say that the right skills at the right time won’t help a candidate land a job. But certain skills grow more desirable than others as technologies shift. For example, as cloud becomes the basis for everything, cloud engineers are in particular demand. The same is true for data and machine learning talent. And as the world continues to move toward more virtual offerings, more ecommerce, and more real-time on-demand requirements, there’s a greater need for site reliability engineers, mobile engineers, and those with the skills to ensure “anytime, anywhere” access with virtually no downtime. Those trends are unlikely to change because of the economy.
What soft skills should tech professionals focus on in 2023?
Tech professionals need a range of soft skills, but two of the most important are communication and team management. Communication skills have always been critical of course, but in our new virtual and hybrid work world they’re even more so. Individuals need to be able to effectively update their teams, bring other teams along on their projects, and collaborate across the organisation—perhaps with fellow employees they’ve never met in person. Doing all of these things well requires strong communication skills.
Next, to be able to grow into managerial roles, tech professionals have to cultivate their leadership skills. They need the ability to clearly communicate objectives to keep their team aligned, to set goals and track progress, and to deliver constructive feedback and address conflict. It’s all necessary as they make the transition from individual contributor to team leader.