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From recruitment to retention: strategies for cultivating a sustainable pipeline of tech talent

From recruitment to retention: strategies for cultivating a sustainable pipeline of tech talent

Written by:
Gregor Towers
Date created
April 30, 2024
Last updated:
June 20, 2024
5 min read
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Key takeaways
  • Companies face a shortage of tech employees and a competitive hiring market 
  • HR and people leaders can adopt new hiring and reskilling tactics to expand their tech talent pool
  • Enterprises can support IT talent transition into leadership roles with soft skill training 
  • Only the most adaptable and resilient talent strategies will source the right people to work with new technologies. 

Technology is becoming the backbone of businesses’ growth. With more enterprises leveraging innovation, the need for technical skills is rising to match their strategic direction. 

As a result, there’s been a shift in the labor market - tech talent have become some of the most valuable people in the global workforce. 

However, for many enterprises, the supply of this labor is lower than demand. In Germany, for example, 780,000 extra technical specialists are needed by 2026 to meet the economy’s growth projection.

In a crowded hiring market where businesses compete for the same employees, what strategies can help people leaders close the tech talent gap? 

Expand recruitment & the talent pool with skills-based hiring 

In 2024 hiring tech employees from the external market is a risky strategy. On average, it takes 10 months to onboard new talent in IT teams - a lengthy process for enterprises facing rapid technological change - and nearly 40% of new hires experience turnover. 

Traditionally, companies put heavy emphasis on hiring tech candidates with prior industry experience, qualifications and training. However, with skills-based recruitment, hiring teams can expand their scope and look for talent who lack experience, such as graduates and employees from other domains, but have the skills and potential to work with innovations. 

Especially if this recruitment is led by tech managers, they can spot candidates with the right skill sets for specific roles, such as cloud and GenAI engineering. And in an era of ‘hire and fire strategies’, tech leaders that work closely with business priorities can source people for long-term growth and minimize future layoffs.  

Reskill non-technical talent for coding projects & software tools

Some companies have found other strategies to adopt technology and avoid competing in a fierce hiring market. HR and IT teams are collaborating to redeploy employees without coding skills and train them to use new automation tools. 

While other businesses - Sky, Etsy and Marks & Spencers - are partnerships with coding schools to train Javascript and Python skills. Through upskilling academies, they are developing employees to work with their digital and AI technology and increase the diversity of their tech talent pool.

“The BEAM Academy’s purpose is to drive growth of digital and data skills across all colleagues at M&S and cultivate stronger digital-first ways of working to support our overall transformation. Our programmes and events are open to all colleagues across our support centres, stores and distribution – and also supports leaders to activate a data-driven and digital-first culture in their teams.” Conor Rose, Principal Strategist at Marks and Spencer

Remove bureaucracy for tech talent & increase innovation 

Adjusting hiring strategies isn’t the only tactic to close the tech talent gap. With new team set ups, organizations stand a better chance of attracting and retaining high valued tech talent.  

Large companies like Amazon and Salesforce are removing bureaucratic barriers for engineers - flipping the engineer to management ratio from 30:70 to 70:30 - and offering flexible career paths to work on different projects. While also ensuring that these engineers work in small, flexible and agile teams to produce the best results.

Some HR teams are also adopting more technology throughout the organization by involving managers from every department. They are communicating the importance of innovation such as AI and anchoring tech talent at the center of strategy.  

Accelerate growth paths for technical leadership 

As more people are hired to work with technologies, the leading companies will prioritize a new employee profile - technical leadership. 

Traditionally, tech teams work in siloes from organizational strategies and focus on specialized projects. However, as the emphasis on innovation grows, businesses will look for talent to lead digital and AI transformation, demanding engineers and developers to adopt leadership roles and acquire cross-functional skills to work closely with other business leaders.  

And the reward for companies who develop high potential tech talent into leaders through upskilling programs is clear. With the right skills, IT leadership can reduce technology costs by 30% while boosting productivity. 

A new digital era tests enterprises’ people strategies  

While innovation promises to unlock new market value, the resilience and adaptability of companies' talent development matters more than ever.

What does this mean for the HR and learning teams? They need to evolve into strategic partners to the business, ensuring the attraction and retention of top tech talent and enabling the organization to execute digital transformation initiatives without compromising productivity, profitability, or growth.

"Most importantly, people teams need to stay relevant. We should ensure that we don't just randomly choose training but align it with what the management team wants and ensure an impact on the whole company's KPIs.

We want to ensure that we all work together and that the skills we are teaching or improving in our colleagues will help them make the right impact on the goals of the whole organization," Daria Tovt, People Onboarding Specialist at Backbase.
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