When it comes to hiring candidates with the appropriate technical skill sets, 41 percent of decision makers within technology and engineering fields indicated it’s becoming more difficult to find the top talent they need, according to the Technology and Engineering Workplace Trends survey by Modis and General Assembly.
This survey explored the attitudes and beliefs of 1,006 decision makers in technology and engineering on issues pertaining to recruitment and benefits, employer challenges and other trends impacting the current and future workplace.
When assessing candidates for open roles, decision makers reported that on average, 43 percent of candidates lack the technical skills required for the role. Additionally, soft skills continue to be a concern for hiring managers when looking for the competencies that ensure workers are ready to succeed in the technology and engineering workforce. Respondents said communication (23 percent) and teamwork and interpersonal skills (22 percent) are the most difficult soft skills to find in candidates.
“With a continuously tight labor market and an increasing need for IT and engineering talent, employers are realizing they must play a more active role in helping build up and maintain a pipeline of workers with the most in-demand skill sets,” said Ger Doyle, president of Modis. “It’s crucial for companies to get involved in attracting more people to these fields, while fostering continuous learning within their own organization, to keep workers skilled-up for jobs today and tomorrow.”
“Increasingly, companies are recognizing that rapid changes in technology and pervasive skills gaps require new strategies for sourcing and investing in talent,” said Jake Schwartz, co-founder , nd CEO of General Assembly. “There’s a growing awareness about the need for new talent pipelines, real-time assessments for both digital and employability skills, and more transparent pathways to the most in-demand roles of the digital economy.”
Is salary taking a back seat?
In last year’s survey, 55 percent of decision makers agreed with the statement ‘workers expect a salary that aligns with the market average for their role,’ compared to 63 percent in 2019, indicating the importance of salary has not changed – but that many employers understand the need for competitive pay in order to secure these specialized workers.
Career advancement opportunities and out-of-the-box benefits have increased in importance, according to respondents. When asked to rank the most important benefits for attracting and retaining talent, the opportunity to advance narrowly beat out competitive salary and raises. The ability to innovate and create new products, projects or ideas ranked third. When examining the responses by generation, Millennial and Gen Z decision makers collectively ranked the ability to create change within a company second. Unlike their Millennial counterparts, Gen Z respondents chose the opportunity to work on a world-changing product as the third most important benefit, leaving salary and raises in fourth place. Boomers were the only group to rank salary and raises above career advancement.
More than half (56 percent) of decision makers agreed that workers in their field are more concerned about out-of-the-box benefits than salary. When asked about what benefits were most appealing to their employees or potential employees, 39 percent chose flex-hours, while just 6 percent picked tuition reimbursement. Flex-hours were the most commonly selected out-of-the-box benefit in both technology and engineering fields, and across generational lines.
Diversity barriers in technology and engineering
When asked which of the following aspects of diversity their field struggles with the most, 43 percent of decision-makers said age and more than a quarter of respondents (29 percent) chose gender. These results suggest that additional advocacy and awareness-building are needed to close diversity gaps in these fields, especially as industry data points to a lack of women and people of color in technology and engineering positions. Decision makers have an opportunity to identify potential gaps in their organization and develop a plan to recruit and retain teams that are representative of the broader American workforce.
Looking ahead at engineering and technology fields
The survey showed that a majority of decision makers (67 percent) plan to increase headcount in 2019, down from 79 percent in 2018. For 2019, 61 percent of organizations with less than 500 employees plan to increase headcount, compared to 76 percent of those with 500 – 999 employees and 69 percent with 1,000 or more.
As employers plan to bring on new team members, they should consider the skill sets that will be needed to take on the transformative technologies of the future. When asked which of the following areas of technology will have a major impact on engineering and technology in the next five years, cybersecurity was at the top of the list, followed by cloud storage, data engineering, and computer vision. When asked about the most impactful use of AI in their field, 32 percent of respondents designated machine learning and 28 percent specified predictive analytics.
“It’s a pivotal time to be a leader within technology and engineering fields as industries across the board become more reliant on highly technical and specialized teams,” said Doyle. “Decision makers who are already feeling talent gaps today should work to understand what it will take to attract and keep the talent they need now and in the long-term – and always be ready to adapt.”