May 23, 2022

The Tech Labor Shortage Is Only Set to Grow

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the business world almost beyond recognition with a series of disruptions in the last two years. Although things are gradually returning to normal in terms of operations, major changes have occurred in America’s labor force. In 2021, nearly 48 million people quit their jobs for different reasons, such as better work-life balance, fatigue, toxic environments, or health concerns.

This period has been referred to as The Great Resignation. Over time, it gradually transformed into The Great Reshuffle as hiring rates quickly outpaced quit rates as industries revamped their recruitment strategies.

A recent report from Gartner showed that nearly 60% of IT leaders reported a tech labor shortage that is haltering their transformation drive and technology investments in the new normal. As a result, many companies are looking for alternative ways to secure and retain the right talent, such as apprenticeships, so they can transform more rapidly and compete with others in their respective industries.

In this article, I’ll dive deeper into the causes of the tech labor shortage in the US and the rise of apprenticeships as a smart alternative to conventional recruitment.

The Main Causes of Tech Labor Shortage in the US

The tech labor shortage has been around long before the pandemic with the rapid influx of technologies and solutions and the declining number of tech-savvy professionals. All COVID-19 did was widen the skills gap further. Here are some of the main causes of the labor shortage in the US today:

1. Non-Flexible Work

One of the positive highlights of the pandemic was the acceptance of flexible working hours. During this period, businesses prioritized getting things done between 9 and 5 (conventional business hours). This flexibility allowed workers to enjoy more freedom in completing their daily tasks and activities.

Now that businesses have reopened, many companies are returning to their old ways, and employees aren’t having it. They’re now accustomed to autonomy and want to work according to their convenience.

2. Lack of Remote or Hybrid Work Models

During lockdowns, millions of workers enjoyed a practice frowned upon by the business world – remote work. Of course, this time, companies had no other choice if they wanted to survive. Unfortunately, many backward companies quickly forced employees to return to their workplace instead of embracing remote work long-term or at least introducing a hybrid model.

Thus, many employees quit working for companies where these models are offered and preferred.

3. Burnout Is on the Rise

For years, the technical workforce has been experiencing a 9-5 grind by employers, resulting in massive burnout. During the pandemic, many employees had to take on extra duties without extra pay to keep their jobs, as some employers sought to seize this opportunity to exploit them. When the tables eventually turned, employees left for better opportunities, and many are still out there.

The Rise of Apprenticeships

Since 2021, many industries, including trade, manufacturing, construction, IT, healthcare, and others, have started embracing apprenticeship as the go-to employment strategy for the future. This innovative recruitment system enables tech professionals to get into the workforce while studying for formal qualifications. It’s similar to internships. However, the key difference is that it’s full-time.

This approach makes perfect sense for modern employers. It allows them to kill two birds with one stone – deal with the labor shortage in technology and recruit talent that is up to date with the latest concepts and practices. This makes training and onboarding much easier. To candidates, it offers a full-time position in their respective industries with pre-graduation experience and a regular paycheck.

As a result, there’s plenty of growing competition in this space as employers are finally seeing and reaping its benefits, such as:

▪ Time saved in recruiting and developing a skilled workforce for business growth.
▪ Enhanced productivity, profitability, and bottom line due to more energy from unproven talent and relatively lesser pay than experienced professionals.
▪ Flexible training options for upskilling and concept development.
▪ Fewer liabilities.
▪ Increased employee retention, depending on the work environment, pay, and perks.

Other Ways to Cope with Tech Labor Shortage

Of course, apprenticeship isn’t the only solution to the shortage problem. Here are other great ways to cope with the ongoing tech labor shortage in the US:

1. Upskilling and Training Existing Staff

If you cannot hire skilled labor for different reasons, you can upskill your existing staff and train them to meet your requirements. With training, you can help employees pick up new concepts and skills that could open them to new roles and responsibilities in your company.

2. Flexible Work Arrangements

As mentioned above, one of the main reasons employees quit their jobs is the lack of flexibility. So, if you’re looking to cope with the shortage, perhaps, giving employees or candidates what they want is the key to hiring or retaining talent. This practice will increase job satisfaction and improve your overall environment. You can also consider allowing them to work remotely or introduce a hybrid schedule.

3. Hire Internationally

Just because there’s a tech labor shortage in the US doesn’t mean the shortage is global. There are millions of people willing to work with American businesses. We’re living in the golden age of outsourcing and freelancing, and thousands of US companies are widening their candidate pool and saving costs in the process.

Wrap It Up

Modern companies have realized that following the Great Resignation in 2021, they have to pay extra attention to their recruitment strategy and offer more to candidates and employees than before.

The options are plenty, whether it’s a more flexible schedule, better pay, or other tangible and intangible benefits. You just have to look for the right balance to ensure both parties get a win-win solution.

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by Bobby J Davidson

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