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  • Writer's pictureHTD Talent

Tech Skills Gap

Updated: Mar 1

Everyone’s heard of the “tech skills gap” these days, but have you ever wondered how it originated ?

How did it grow so quickly into something that the industry has struggled to solve?  Here’s my take…

There are 3 specific market forces that have come together in the past 15 years resulting in today's well documented skills gap for tech graduates.

Pace of innovation, Corporate Expectations and our Education system.

If you look back 15-20 years, these three worked in conjunction quite well.  The complexity of technology back then felt complex for the time, but compared to today, it was very much straightforward and silo’d.  A developer did development, testers did testing, server folks did server work, etc.  There wasn't even a thought of cloud or devops or cyber 20 years ago. So the tech skill set coming out of university fed into this scenario very well because it was so straightforward. 

But if we fast forward and look at some of the things that have changed since then, we start to see a different picture.

Market forces outpacing our Education System has led to the Tech Skills Gap as we know it

Pace of Innovation:  Innovation is a wonderful and exciting thing to be a part of. It drives everything we know in business.  For example:

Let’s take the iPhone.  It was originally released in 2007 (17 years ago).  The first thing most business people did was hold up our Blackberries and say, “I don't have time for games or music, I'm busy getting work done.”  Fast forward to today, and we can now run entire businesses on our phones.  That’s pace of innovation.

Let’s take the Cloud.  Amazon released their AWS service in 2006 as an internal solution.  Fast forward to today and cloud tech is literally everywhere in our business and personal lives.  That’s pace of innovation.

Innovation gives us new tech, new capabilities, new efficiencies, etc. etc., which is a constant in business environments.  Of course, that means businesses then need talent with the skills for that new tech, new capabilities, and new efficiencies, which leads us to Corporate Expectations.

Corporate Expectations:  Corporate Expectations always follows the Pace of Innovation quite closely because we naturally want to use new tech and new capabilities to do entirely new things.  But what that means from a Talent perspective is that Java developer from 20 years ago, who just needed to know Java, now needs to work with databases and front end technologies, along with cloud and devops skills, along with data skills, along with secure coding skills, along with testing skills, and we might as well add in AI skills at this stage too.  Clearly, the complexity of skill needed in a single developer has changed dramatically over the last 10-15 years.  

So where does today’s graduate get the combination of all these skills?

That takes us to our 3rd market force - today’s Educational System.

Today’s Education System:  Our educational system is a wonderful vehicle for creating logical and critical thinking skill sets, foundational understandings and even communication and social skills.  But, our educational system was not built to chase or try to keep up with the Pace of Innovation.  New curricula for today’s tech can take 2 - 3 years to release in an educational environment - but in that same timeframe, what new skills will graduates need to then meet even newer expectations 2 years from now?

If we look at this from a visual perspective, Innovation and Corporate Expectations are outpacing the outcomes of today’s Educational Systems (and they’ll likely continue to do so).  This outpacing has grown to the point that it has resulted in today’s Tech Skills Gap as we know it.

Now, there’s a 4th market force that makes all of this even worse, but we’ll get to that topic next time.

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