The shortage of IT specialists continues to be large and damaging to business. Hays manager Simon Alborz outlines ways out of the shortage of skilled workers in an interview. […]
According to the Skilled Workers Index from the fourth quarter of 2021, the demand for IT specialists has increased by another 20 percent compared to the previous quarter. As the head of the department of the Hays company specializing in personnel consulting, you are very familiar with the labor market. How do you explain this development?
Simon Alborz: Indeed, according to the index, we have reached a new record high. This development is likely to be due to catch-up effects as well as a certain investment backlog from the past months. Comparatively few new personnel were sought in the pandemic months. Although many companies knew how urgently they actually need to invest in digital and IT know-how. After all, digitalization does not take a break.
Are there any special anomalies in the IT skills currently in demand?
Alborz: Absolutely! Not only the purely technical competence of software development is in high demand. There is also an increasing demand for related and complementary skills such as IT consulting or IT architecture. This is certainly partly due to the fact that both job profiles are largely responsible for the implementation of the digital strategy. Simply put, an IT architect takes care of the conception of a new application, the developer then assembles it.
The index states that for the first time there are 100,000 open IT jobs per quarter. Isn’t one or the other production engine stuttering here?
Alborz: Yes, companies across industries already see this coming and are trying to counteract it pragmatically by offering attractive learning, further education and certification opportunities to employees with the corresponding potential. This can be, for example, a Scrum Master certification or an SAP training course. But also the supportive financing of a part-time study is part of it. For those affected themselves, this has the advantage that they improve their skills and job opportunities for the employer in the long term. In addition, however, alternative paths should also be taken beyond the classic recruitment of personnel.
Can you give examples?
Alborz: There is an approach that companies that train IT specialists themselves, at the same time set new professional priorities for their own competence needs and, with a little patience, build up highly specialized expertise in-house. In order to be able to do this, however, you first need to know which technological competence is needed today and tomorrow and to what extent. This includes anticipating more than before which skills will become important in two to three years. The short-term occupation idea is therefore passé. After all, it is already no longer possible to recruit the desired expertise precisely depending on the project or order situation.
Where do you see short-term compensation opportunities to close at least some gaps?
Alborz: In general, companies can no longer avoid multi-track driving when it comes to efficient and sustainable resource management. This means that your focus should no longer be solely on recruiting, but also on retaining your employees. Not to mention the employer attractiveness. The last two areas have not always received the necessary attention from management in recent years. This is now making itself felt. Because right now there are big waves of emigration.
Employees quit without having anything new in prospect. Especially in the IT environment, the workload is permanently very high, also due to a high pressure of innovation. The work from the home office does the rest. Relief concepts are urgently needed here, which relieve those affected from a high project volume in the short term. On the one hand, this can be cooperation with IT freelancers, on the other hand, flexible working models such as job sharing can also relieve stress in the short term.
Let’s take a closer look at recruitment, where are the efficiency potentials still lying dormant here?
Alborz: Decisions need to be made faster. Especially with complex corporate structures, the internal voting paths before deciding on a candidate are still too long. There is still a lot of room for improvement. Even the top employers have to understand that they can no longer afford to hold off on a candidate for a long time. Today, every applicant wants a definitive, credibly justified feedback within one day. Long-winded processes and supposed “suspended states” are no longer tolerated. If you don’t get a quick answer, go to the competition.
By the way, some companies are already systematically taking advantage of the high willingness of candidates to change. They rely on speed and a high level of entry motivation to immediately finalize the employment contract. In other words: just got acquainted, already a contract is coming. These companies have understood that the initial enthusiasm for the employer and the position does not last for weeks and there are also too many attractive alternatives for the candidate.
What could you give to companies that are desperately looking for IT specialists?
Alborz: Especially against the background of a persistent bottleneck, the requirement criteria should not be set too narrowly at one point. As broad a circle of candidates as possible should feel addressed by this. If central qualifications are not yet available, the candidate should still be able to see how he can acquire these skills over time at the employer.
When looking for skilled workers, companies should not only keep an eye on the position at the entry of the candidate, but also anticipate how they will “develop” with the professional advancement in the company. For example, that despite an ascent to a responsible position, there is always the possibility of being able to step shorter without endangering one’s own career.
*Silvia Hänig is a communications consultant and Managing Director of iKOM in Munich.