Tech shortage: Why it's happening and ways to address it
May 2, 2024
min read

Tech shortage: Why it's happening and ways to address it

Eli McGarvie
Eli McGarvie

It's 2024, and although tech is everywhere, is spoken about interchangeably with science, and is a part of the everyday lives of billions of people, here in Europe, there's a problem.

The tech shortage.

As a recruiter, you may have found over the last few years that finding that perfect developer is harder than closing a tough deal, leading to a lot of stress and operational issues.

But it's not just you.

Across Europe (and the world), companies are desperate for the talent to drive digital transformation. Detailing the inside scoop, today we're diving into why this shortage is happening, the roles that are hardest to fill, and what you can actually do to find those needle-in-a-haystack candidates. 

Everything you need to break the mould and gain a competitive advantage in the cut-throat world of tech recruitment.

Let's get into it.

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Understanding the Tech Shortage

An empty tech office short on staff and talent

According to a Euro News report (April 2024), 75% of employers across 21 European countries (54% of small and medium-sized businesses) couldn't find the right workers with the right skills for their role across 2023. 

75%. Take a moment and let that sink in.

Statistics show this is a rise of 42% compared with 2018 figures, yet the demand for talented and skilled workers is at an all-time high. Most notably, Ireland, the UK, France, and Spain are seeing the biggest hits - up to 80% lacking in the UK alone.

While the report itself covers businesses and industries as a whole, it highlighted that technicians are the most affected area, seeing an average shortage in European SMEs of up to 42%, by far the role with the highest lack of skilled availability.

R&D roles, IT experts, and marketing registered 20%, 18%, and 12%, respectively.

In a world where it feels as though every other person online is a coder, developer, or programmer, what's going on?

Well, it's a bit of a perfect storm situation.

  • The Ghost Candidate: You've got the job posting, but the right applicants are nowhere in sight. 56% of employers simply stated they had few or no applicants whatsoever.
  • Skills Gap: Those who do apply often don't have what it takes, both in technical know-how and those "people skills" that tech needs these days. 
  • The Moving Target: Tech changes fast, and it's hard to keep your hiring requirements up-to-date.

But while these stats come from the EU, there's no denying this is a worldwide problem, mostly affecting STEM industries. The Financial Times reported that job participation was 62.6% in March 2022 and on a steady decline, with 70% of respondents stating that the lack of skills was preventing their organisation from keeping at their desired pace. 

So, bringing this back to you, What can you do about all this? Keel over and wait for a miracle? Hunker down and wait for people to skill up?

Absolutely not. This is an opportunity, but it means we need to totally rethink how we find talent, train people, and even what a "tech job" means in the first place.

Challenges in the Recruitment Landscape

 A close-up of a traditional red “for hire” flag

Okay, the tech talent pool might be feeling a bit shallow right now, but that doesn't mean there's no way to catch the big fish.

It's about changing your approach – casting a wider net, using the right bait (hint: it's not just salary), and reeling those candidates in faster than ever. 

Let's tackle those recruitment challenges head-on.

Getting Enough Applications

Okay, be honest: posting a job ad and praying for tech geniuses to magically apply feels a bit...slack, right? Since there's a shortage of skill, every company is desperate, which means the ones going above and beyond will get results over those sticking with traditional processes.

With over 90% of tech leaders say attracting enough applicants is their biggest struggle today, so start with this. There's beauty in the numbers.

It's time to ditch the dusty old job boards and think like a marketer. We need to figure out where those top candidates are hanging out and what messages actually make them say, "Okay, I'm interested..."

Candidate-Role Mismatch

Imagine spending weeks sifting through resumes, only to realise most candidates don't have the basics for the job. 

Frustrating? Yes. 

But the real nightmare? 64% of tech leaders say it's happening all the time. Worse, it's not just wasting your time – this skills mismatch means missed deadlines, stalled projects, and leaving potential revenue on the table that will go to your competition.

We're not just talking about a few missed opportunities here. 

We're looking at 85 million roles that might never get filled globally by 2030. That's trillions (yes, trillions!) of dollars lost because we don't have the talent to keep up.

The bottom line: This isn't just a problem for recruiters or job seekers; it's a crisis for the entire tech industry. We need to totally rethink how we match people with jobs AND how we help them develop the skills that businesses actually need.

Addressing the Tech Shortage: Solutions for Companies

A Macbook opening and showing a bright screen in a dark aesthetic room

Okay, let's get real: how do we address these challenges and solve these problems?

Straight off the bat, it comes down to you, your approach, and what you're offering. These days, it's no longer good enough to be representing a well-known, reputable brand that works to tickle the ego. These days, it's all about a good and proper exchange of value.

With that in mind, sitting around and complaining won't magically build your dream team. It's time to roll up your sleeves and try some new things. This section is your roadmap. We're going to cover smart ways to find talent, get them excited about your company, and make sure the good ones stick around.

Flexible Working Options

Want the inside scoop on what young talent really cares about? It's not fancy snacks or ping pong tables (well, maybe a little). They want flexibility. 

Remote work, flexible hours, and the ability to control their own schedule – that's what makes them actually excited about a job.

Think about it:

  • Cast a Wider Net: Remote work means you're not just fishing in your local pond for talent. You can find the perfect developer, even if they live three states away.
  • Happy Employees = Loyal Employees: When people have control over their work-life balance, they're less likely to burn out and jump ship.

If you're still forcing everyone into the office 9-to-5, you're missing out on amazing candidates. It's time to embrace the future of work. Most notably, you're kicking out the opportunity to work with people worldwide.

Outsourcing Projects

Need a super-specialized skill, like yesterday? Don't have the budget for another full-time employee? Outsourcing might be your secret weapon.

Think of it as tapping into a global network of experts who are ready to jump in and save the day.

Here's why it works:

  • Get Help Fast: No need to wait months for the perfect hire. Find a freelancer or agency with precisely the skills you need right now.
  • Save Some Cash: Sometimes, you just need someone to tackle one specific project. Outsourcing can be way more cost-effective than hiring someone long-term.
  • Stay Agile: Business needs to change quickly. Outsourcing means you can scale up or down without the headache of hiring and layoffs.

Outsourcing isn't just about cutting costs. It's about being smart and getting the resources you need to keep those projects moving. It's filling the gaps and keeping pace in this ever-changing market.

International Hiring

While it's certainly preferable in many ways to search for a unicorn candidate in your own backyard, these days, it's time to go global. We've never been more connected, and the world of talent has never been so accessible.

You just need to open your doors to it and integrate the possibilities into your workflow. Hiring internationally opens up a huge world of untapped talent, and the benefits are massive:

  • New Skills, New Ideas: People from different backgrounds bring fresh perspectives. That can mean problem-solving your team never even thought of!
  • Fill Those Hard-to-Find Roles: Struggling to find that niche developer? Chances are, they live somewhere else in the world.
  • Become a Global Powerhouse: A diverse team positions you better to compete on an international scale.

Yes, there's some extra paperwork with visas and such, but don't let that scare you off. Many companies offer relocation packages, and there are tons of resources to help you navigate the process.

If you only hire locally, you're missing out on some seriously amazing people.

Training Junior Talent

A junior tech training meeting underway

Okay, the perfect candidate who knows everything on day one? They don't exist. Your expectations are too high, and you're going to be disappointed. 

But here's what does exist: motivated people who are eager to learn - especially the younger generations. Investing in junior talent is like planting seeds for the future of your tech team.

Treat them well, train them, and nurture their potential; you might just be left with some top talent who are with you for years to come. Talent that will help your company perform over and over again.

Here's the payoff:

  • Loyalty That Money Can't Buy: When you show someone you believe in them, they're way more likely to stick around, even when competitors come calling.
  • Skills on Demand: Skip the frantic job searches when your tech needs change. Train your existing team to be ready for whatever comes next.
  • They Know How You Work: People you train understand your company's way of doing things better than anyone you could hire.

Yes, it takes time to grow talent. But think of it as an investment that pays off tenfold – in saved recruitment costs, higher productivity, and a team that truly feels like a team.

Specialised Job Platforms

Generic job boards are a crapshoot for finding top-tier tech talent. They're simply not spending their time there. It's time to get smart and head to where the specialists hang out. Think of it like this:

  • Developers? Head to Stack Overflow: They're already there geeking out about code.
  • Need an amazing designer? Dribbble's your spot: It's where they showcase their best work.
  • Engineers? GitHub's got them: You can see their actual projects, not just a resume.

Or look for actual specialised job boards like We Are Developers to actually find top tech talent in the places they hang out - people who are ready to commit and work for companies that have their back.

Niche platforms like WAD are goldmines because they're full of people passionate about their craft. That means higher quality candidates who are ACTUALLY excited about new opportunities.

So, bringing all this together, while the tech talent shortage is a problem, it's also a chance to get creative. 

By thinking beyond traditional recruiting methods, and investing in both finding AND growing talent, you'll gain a serious competitive edge. It's not going to be easy, but then again, building cutting-edge tech never is.

Tech shortage: final thoughts

We've covered a lot of ground: the scary numbers, the frustrating realities, and some outside-the-box solutions. It's clear that finding and keeping amazing tech talent isn't going to get any easier. But here's the thing: waiting around and hoping for the best isn't a strategy.

The companies that will thrive are the ones who get proactive about this. The ones who invest in their people, think creatively about hiring and make their workplace somewhere that top talent wants to be a part of.

Ready to Lead the Charge?

Then WeAreDevelopers is your secret weapon. As a specialised job platform and Europe's #1 Developer community, this is where top recruiters go to find the talent they need for their company to thrive.

This isn't just about filling your open jobs. It's about building a strong tech industry for the future.


#Wanted and #Misunderstood: A Developer Survey 2023 (Full Report)

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#Wanted and #Misunderstood: A Developer Survey 2023 (Full Report)

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