Today’s hiring scene is seeing record-low unemployment rates, shallow talent pools, and a seemingly widening talent gap. To uncover the concerns of both top technical talent and the organizations that need them, we surveyed over 1,000 hiring decision makers in technology and engineering throughout the US on issues pertaining to recruitment, benefits, employer challenges, and other developments influencing the existing and future workplace. The results reveal a shift in the expectations of the current workforce, the risks of maintaining the status quo, and the focus for the future.
In this report, you will find an in-depth look at the challenges, changes, and cravings of the existing engineering and tech landscape. With an eye on the shifting trends — and a breakdown of the gap between the current and the future state of the industry – employers can overcome a troubling talent gap, concerning diversity lapses, and retention struggles.
Companies and organizations of all sizes and across all industries agree: There is a troubling gap between the available talent pool and the growing needs for those roles. Of the 1,006 decision makers we asked, over 80 percent reported high levels of concern about a talent gap in technology and engineering. Here, we’ll dive into what’s causing this gap and how employers might build a bridge between the talent available to them and the talent they need.
As the demand for skilled engineering and tech talent rises, and the unemployment rate in the industry dips, employers are left feeling let down. When it comes to hiring talent with the appropriate technical skillsets, 41 percent of decision makers within technology and engineering fields indicated it’s becoming more difficult to find the skilled professionals they need.
When assessing available candidates for open engineering and tech roles within their organization, decision makers reported that on average, 43 percent of candidates lack the technical skills required for the role. Clearly, a perceived skills gap is contributing to the frustration among decision makers as they look to hire within the engineering and tech space.
A recent study suggests that the perception of a skills gap in tech might be more complicated than a broad-brush assumption that the talent pool lacks technical skills. After reviewing 114,000 resumes, the study found that the problem isn’t necessarily that jobseekers don’t possess skills that employers want – it’s that jobseekers aren’t marketing the required skills that employers need for specific roles and are instead showcasing skills that are expected of the tech industry in general.
In addition to relevant technical skills, some soft skills prove more challenging to find than others. The decision makers we asked said communication and teamwork (23 percent), along with interpersonal skills (22 percent), are proving to be the most difficult soft skills to find in candidates.
And as the hiring competition heats up, experienced workers are becoming increasingly challenging to recruit and retain as a result of an increased demand – and dwindling supply – of skilled talent in engineering and tech.
In a recent op-ed on America’s skills gap, Jake Swartz, co-founder and CEO of General Assembly Swartz writes: “I’ve observed three troubling drivers of the economic friction fueling the skills gap: a surprising lack of visibility and long-term planning around concrete skill and talent needs within the enterprise; incredible inertia around and adherence to old-school hiring practices that perpetuate growing equity gaps through a search for new skills in conventional places; and a tendency to misplace hope that our higher education and workforce development systems can somehow “solve” the problem with minimal corporate involvement or responsibility.”
Our survey reveals differing opinions along generational lines in respect to the current talent pool. 44 percent of Gen Xers and 62 percent of Boomers said it is becoming increasingly difficult to find candidates with the right technical skillsets, compared to 24 percent of Millennials.
Candidates in today’s job market have access to a wider variety of occupations and a greater number of jobs than ever before. Engineering and tech workers can work remotely, on assignment, in a corporation, as a consultant, temporarily, permanently, or with any combination of these employment options.
With more flexibility than ever before, workers with qualifying skills and the coveted experience in engineering and tech have the upper-hand when it comes to job choice – and top talent is demanding more from their employers as a result of this leverage.
To find out what today’s top talent wants from future or current employers, we asked decision makers to identify which incentives were most influential to the current engineering and tech workforce. Here’s what they had to say:
What do engineering tech workers want in a job?
According to our survey results, there’s a shift occurring in the dominance of salary as a recruitment and retention strategy.
Among those we surveyed, salary concerns fell out of the top spot. Ranked in order of importance, the results are:
- Opportunity for career advancement
- Competitive salaries & raises
- Ability to create change or have a voice within the company
- Ability to innovate and create new products, projects or ideas
Decision makers in tech and engineering are aware that top talent can’t be secured by dangling a hefty salary carrot alone. In last year’s survey, 55 percent of decision makers agreed that 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 is simply expected by candidates when evaluating a new role.
Career advancement opportunities have increased in importance, according to respondents. Top talent is increasingly mindful of their own future trajectory and the long-term growth outlook within an organization – and they’re making career decisions with these projections in mind.
When asked to rank the most important benefits for attracting and retaining talent, survey respondents said that the opportunity for career advancement beats out competitive salary and raises. The ability to innovative and create new products, projects or ideas came in third.
Here’s where the generations differ: Ranking the benefits, Generation Z (those aged 25 or under) and Millennial (those aged 26-34) respondents collectively agreed that the ability to create change within a company is of high importance – placing it just behind the opportunity for career advancement. Ranking competitive salary and raises as of less importance than advancement opportunities and the chance to create change, Millennials and Gen Zers have their sights set on their futures.
Among those we asked, older Boomers and Traditionalists (those currently 65 years of age or older) were the only group to rank salary and raises above career advancement. As 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age every day, and more Gen Zers enter the workforce, we can expect to witness more shifts like this into 2030 and beyond.
Both men and women ranked the opportunity to advance in their careers as the most attractive benefit, followed by salary, but the tertiary results differed by gender:
To echo these results, 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 desired out-of-the-box benefit in both technology and engineering fields, and across generational lines. The ability to work remote ranks second – at 23 percent—as the most appealing benefit to engineering and tech talent in 2019.
To retain your best employees (or to find the right employment fit), it’s vital to understand the reality – and the dream – working environment for IT and engineering professionals. Get a clearer picture with the following infographic:
Our survey revealed 2019 is going to continue to experience significant growth in the tech and engineering space as the majority of leaders plan to increase headcounts.
Our survey results reveal an even more aggressive growth plan for mid-size organizations (those with 500-999 employees) with 76.3 percent revealing plans to increase headcount.
When increasing headcount, employers should focus on what they need to do to attract and retain talent with the right technical skillsets for transformative technologies of the future.
As new innovations and technologies continue to impact the workplace, employers should maintain a focus on upskilling and training employees to meet their organizations’ workforce needs.
Despite the growing concern about finding enough skilled tech workers, many companies are looking ahead for ways to reskill their current workforce and retain their top talent. To build sustainable pipelines of qualified talent, top companies are focusing on fostering continuous learning within their current workforce in order to keep employees engaged and educated not just for the roles needed today but also for the skills required for tomorrow.
In reaction to the existing tech revolution, top companies are making a commitment to continuous evolution, innovation, and education. By investing in training their current workforce, employers create a more attractive environment to entice other qualified applicants to their organizations, while funneling their existing employees into desired advancement opportunities.
In addition to actively recruiting candidates with tech skills with the help of industry-specialized staffing partners like us, top companies are battling a thin talent supply – and the corresponding choosiness of jobseekers in tech and engineering – by helping their existing or incoming talent learn the skills required of those highly sought-after positions.
To do this, organizations are activating upskilling programs – like those offered by our sister organization in the Adecco Group, General Assembly, to give their existing workforce access to technical education and transformative career instruction offerings.
“Increasingly, companies are looking at build versus buy approach when it comes to thinking about talent. As technology changes in real time, and workers struggle to keep pace with these changes in a world that requires constant upskilling, companies have recognized that they have a responsibility in ensuring that their workforce have the relevant skillsets as mastery of data, design, and technology principles affect every company and every job category.”
-Jake Schwartz, Co-founder and CEO of General Assembly
When asked which areas of technology will have a major impact on engineering and technology in the next five years, cybersecurity tops the list, followed by cloud storage, data engineering and computer vision. With the unemployment rate among cybersecurity professionals hovering around a virtual zero, and cybercrime more than tripling the number of job openings over the next 5 years, the need for skills training can’t be overlooked.
When asked about the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in their field, 32 percent of respondents designated machine learning – and 28 percent specified predictive analytics – as the most anticipated impacts on their businesses.
Businesses should work to constantly to engage and reskill employees in order to inspire a culture of continuous learning and also to nurture a sustainable talent pipeline.
To compete in the current hiring landscape, a diverse workforce isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity. It’s no secret: Diversity enhances performance and efficiency while also encouraging innovation. Persistent diversity gaps in the fields of engineering and technology have garnered increased scrutiny in recent years, causing many companies to launch new initiatives to recruit, hire, and source more diverse talent pipelines.
When asked about the biggest challenge to diversity in their field, 43 percent of decision makers named age as the biggest struggle and a quarter of respondents (29 percent) chose gender. While age held the highest rank, industry data points to a lack of women and people of color in these fields, suggesting that more awareness-building needs to take place in order to close diversity gaps and develop technology and engineering teams that are broadly representative of the American workforce.
To compete in the current hiring landscape, a diverse workforce isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity. It’s no secret: Diversity enhances performance and efficiency while also encouraging innovation.
As businesses look to the future, here are a few best practices that can help create an agile workforce:
As seen in the results of our survey, the desires and expectations of top tech and engineering talent have experienced a subtle shift – and it’s more important than ever that jobseekers and employers are clued in on the changing landscape. For more workforce insights like these, or to leverage our industry expertise, visit modis.com/us.
Modis, via a partnership with Allison+Partners, surveyed 1,006 hiring decision makers within technology and engineering in the U.S. Fielding was conducted using the Qualtrics Insight Platform, and panel was sourced from Qualtrics Panel Services. Fielding was executed in November and December 2018.
Modis is a leader in STEM professional staffing, consulting, project services, outsourcing and customized workforce solutions, particularly for IT, engineering and life sciences across Europe & North America. With more than 20 years of experience in these fields, the expanded Modis consists of more than 30,000 associates and consultants worldwide and has a network of 20 centers of excellence and delivery centers. Globally, Modis is a part of The Adecco Group, the world’s leading HR solutions partner. In Australia, Modis office locations include Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth & Sydney.
About General Assembly
General Assembly (GA) is advancing the future of work by equipping individuals and organizations with the most in-demand 21st-century skills. Offering training and assessments in web development, data science, digital marketing, and more, GA is building transparent career pathways for people, and sustainable, diverse talent pipelines for employers. With 22 locations, immersive online offerings, onsite trainings for the Fortune 500, and a global community of professionals nearly 1 million strong, GA is the leading source for training, staffing, and career transitions.