The coronavirus pandemic, current economic backdrop and increased spate of cybersecurity breaches in Australia have seen the technology sector emerge as a key driver for both our economy and our way of life in a world with COVID19. But the almost-overnight surge in demand for the sector has translated into problems with talent supply. Thankfully there are some things that leaders in the sector can do to tackle the issue.

Our latest report on the battle for emerging tech talent revealed a worrying trend whereby there is a shortage of talent in emerging technology which has the potential to pose a serious threat to the growth and competitiveness of Australian businesses.

We could say this isn’t particularly surprising given the current economic backdrop and the global pandemic we’ve endured over the past year. And it seems set to continue disrupting our daily working lives for the foreseeable future as we come to terms with a new way of working.

The very fast and sudden ramp-up in demand for technologies over the past 12 months as Australia’s workforce repositioned itself to work from home amid lockdowns, combined with an increased spate of cybersecurity breaches in Australia, has seen an accelerated transition to technological solutions.

In fact, tech leaders anticipate that the largest headcount growth in emerging tech will be required in cybersecurity, followed by AI, automation and robotics, digital transformation, big data analytics, IoT and cloud computing.

cybersecurity is a particularly interesting sector because it's clear there is a lot of growth appetite, but the sector is so unique that the talent pool is incredibly small and as a result, skilled talent is scarce

Similarly, more and more consumers are consuming cloud technology so that area has had to develop quickly, with the coronavirus pandemic only exacerbating the need for fast growth.

If you think about it, how many of us used Zoom or video calls regularly prior to the pandemic? It was the case that these types of technology became essential overnight.

In fact, that’s a key trigger here. A lot of this EmTech talent was already in demand here in Australia, and COVID-19 has accelerated that demand beyond what the emerging tech industry can possibly keep up with. 

At the same time, it has also driven a decline in offshoring as other economies struggle to grapple with the resources needed to work from home. And the closure of our international border has also cut off the prospect of recruiting highly skilled talent from overseas meaning businesses don’t have the option to source their talent internationally either.

These issues are causing a clear divide between the supply and demand of true trained talent in these unique and niche areas.

And these aren’t the only challenges leaders face when trying to bridge the gap on the emerging tech skills shortage. High salary demands and budget approvals for required programs of work are also making the ability to secure talent even harder.

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winning the talent battle

read the report
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what can businesses do to tackle the skills shortage?

The good news is that there is a lot that businesses can do to combat this skills shortage depending on whether you need a short-term, mid-term or long-term strategy.

Those businesses looking for a short-term strategy because they need to react quickly to changes in the market and be agile, but don’t have the ability or time to retrain existing talent, would need to procure that talent.

These businesses either need to hire talent pertinently and pay a premium, get contractors in which have done the job before and can support a short need, or engage a services firm to do it for you.

the problem is this all comes at a premium cost

The bottom line is if you want to source talent in the emerging technology space quickly and want someone who has already done the job before then you’ll need to be prepared to pay a premium, with salaries likely to rise by 10% or 20% as demand only continues to compound.

In fact, if you’re facing a skills shortage and are desperate to bolster headcount quickly, we would recommend you plan a mixed solution of reskilling staff, outsourcing, hiring contractors and engaging consultancy partners.  Capitalising on the work from home revolution by hiring remote domestic or even remote international workers is also an option for some businesses.

But a mid-term strategy would look quite different. Businesses that already have internal capability could build on top of that by either hiring potential talent which is able to step up and train or by identifying talent elsewhere in the industry which has the potential to cross-train and upskill. 

This type of talent can come from graduates, less experienced talent from competitors or it can even come from the talent you already have in your business that can be moved across and be retrained.

But of course, gaining talent is only half the issue. Retaining talent in such a competitive market is another challenge entirely.

If you have premium talent in the space, whether that is because you have hired, trained or upskilled, then they’re at risk of being poached by a competitor.

So it’s really important to think long-term about how you’re going to continue to retain your highly skilled tech talent down the track.

here is how Randstad Technologies can help

I think it’s important then that the organisations we support know we, at Randstad Technologies, are right here to support the emerging tech industry and its businesses and workers.

Through an injection of investment in specialisation in our new emerging technology practice, we’re better positioning ourselves and our teams to support our customers, particularly in the cybersecurity, AI, big data, cloud computing, robotics and automation space.

It’s clear to us that this niche and rapidly developing industry needs a different approach to our traditional delivery models.

So through deep specialisation, our hope is that we can map our existing talent, and keep on top of any talent in the field seeking a new opportunity in order to ensure we’re constantly poised for an opportunity for our customers to gain new talent.

And by better understanding the career paths that go into these roles we are also able to position our division to advise our customers about how they can expand their thinking and solve the problem they have with talent.

widening the pool

Today, developments in our technology sector are taking the world by storm. In the past 12 months, changes have happened quickly and the niche pool of talent in the emerging tech sector became suddenly overwhelmed with demand.

The reality unfortunately is that if you and your business are slow to adopt the current trends in technology, and do so efficiently, then you’ll lose out to competitors.

This is why the shortage of skills in the emerging tech sector is so critical - leaders are scared that without the right talent in these emerging technologies in place, they will be unable to meet future demand and grow, or even lose their competitive advantage altogether.

So now, more than ever, in a post-COVID19 world, organisations and leaders need to continue to make every effort to tackle the issue. Because every investment in talent made today will help to widen the pool of talent for our future emerging tech industry.

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about the author

Alex Jones

national divisional director - technologies - australia

As National Director of Randstad Technologies, Alex oversees the total technology talent and solutions division for Australia, In this role, he manages the overall strategic direction, sales and marketing efforts, operations, and employee development for the technologies business. Accelerating growth and expanding the Technologies sector of Randstad Australia's market presence are Alex's key initiatives.