Technical Skills Gap by MVP Stephanie Herrera

Last month, I attended and spoke at Dreamforce 2019 – Salesforce’s premier conference featuring upwards of 170,000 customers, partners, employees and stakeholders – and was surrounded by its vast and rapidly growing partner ecosystem. Going from sessions to events to career panels and keynotes and speaking with many of these companies poised on the verge of growth, one key topic of conversation was that millions of new tech jobs are being generated, and how businesses will fill them.

The workplace and the skills required across industries are changing rapidly, yet there simply aren’t enough traditionally skilled applicants to fill these roles because technology is evolving faster than the traditional workforce. According to Pew Research Center, employment in STEM occupations has grown 79% since 1990 — increasing from 9.7 million to 17.3 million, outpacing overall U.S. job growth.

How can we fix it?

Companies that remain rigid in seeking only traditional 9-5 workers for jobs in IT/cloud/SaaS specialties are going to lose precious speed, agility, functionality and responsiveness. They will also lose money in the race to staff the millions of job openings for their Salesforce deployments alone.  

There is, however, a clear path forward, which doesn’t involve sacrificing money, time or talent. There are plenty of skilled workers ready to “plugin and play”. Companies and hiring managers just need to think a bit differently to hit their staffing goals.

Enter the non-traditional, skilled worker talent pool. This cohort is comprised of certified and soft skill-rich minorities, veterans looking to upskill, spouses of veterans looking to finally focus on themselves and launch a career or bring in supplemental income, Boomers looking to retain income, Gen Z kids eschewing the traditional 4-year degree, and more. These workers may not have the 10+ years of technical computer science experience that hiring managers have had the luxury of seeking in the past, but what they do have are all the necessary technical certifications, transferrable skills from previous experiences, or soft skills they’ve built serving in other careers or in the military, making them ideal candidates for hire.

1. Take stock of your talent

It’s time to recognize that a degree in computer science and 10+ years of technical software experience are not the only qualifications a person needs for a successful career in the tech industry.

What qualities are most important today? Skills and certifications need to take priority over number of years.

Soft skills are also critically important: Does the candidate know how to collaborate, to communicate their ideas, to think creatively in the face of problems that must be solved, to self-motivate? Many studies today show that these are the skills that make people stand out once the technical skills playing field is leveled — and candidates who are former military or who have come from different backgrounds or who have overcome life challenges are often in full possession of these skills.

Find out the other ways that we can help close the skills gap here.

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