Two in five technology job applicants don't have the right technical chops, survey finds

The tech talent gap is biting most of the 1,000 technical hiring managers responding to a recent survey.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

More than two in five candidates (43 percent) applying for technology and engineering positions these days lack the appropriate technical skills for those roles. In addition, more than two in five hiring managers say it's only getting more difficult to find the skills they need.  

Photo: Michael Krigsman

These are some of the findings in a recent survey of 1,006 hiring executives within technology and engineering released by Modis and General Assembly, fielded in November and December 2018. Just about everyone appears to be feeling the pinch of the skills gap -- 80 percent agree (31 percent strongly) that there is a talent gap that is inhibiting their ability to fill open positions within their enterprises  

The skills desperately needed include security, cloud, data, and AI. When asked what skills will have a major impact on technology in the next five years, cybersecurity was at the top of the list (53 percent), followed by cloud storage (46 percent), data engineering (44 percent) and computer vision (24 percent). 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.  

The Modis/General Assembly survey also shows that a majority of decision makers (67 percent) plan to increase headcount in 2019, down from 79 percent in 2018. 

Are the issues with talent gaps a product of labor market economics, or are companies not doing enough to step up their game with attracting and keeping employees? As Deloitte's Daniel Bachman put in in a recent post, organizations that are having talent issues should take a deep look inside their own culture and practices to make sure they're not repelling talent. "Blaming the state of the labor market for a company's flawed personnel strategy is about as productive as blaming consumers for disliking the latest tech gadget," he states. Companies need to focus on smarter and more competitive recruiting as well as make greater investments in professional development.    

Tellingly, while salary is one of the most important factors, other aspects of compensation are also increasingly being sought by technology talent, the Modis/General Assembly survey finds. 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. 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. Career advancement opportunities and out-of-the-box benefits have increased in importance. This year, the opportunity to advance narrowly beat out competitive salary and raises. The ability to innovate and create new products, projects or ideas ranked third. 

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