Close to 8 percent of all workers in the UK are employed by tech companies, however the future growth of the industry is under threat, due to a shortage of skilled professionals in the sector. There is a similar deficit across the pond in the US, and in 2012, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology predicted a shortage of one million workers over the following 10 years.
There are some however, who have a slightly sceptical view on these figures and believe that this talent gap has merely been invented by technology companies as a ploy to relax immigration rules and attract lower-cost talent in the industry.
Whichever happens to be true, the same issues still stand when hiring into technology companies, such as finding talent who can have the right skills to compete in tomorrow’s technology market, expecting much more of them than in the past. Millennial workers are more likely to prefer flexible work arrangements than older employees, meaning a lot are choosing to work as independent contractors. A 2014 Millennial survey from Deloitte found up to 70 percent of graduates would reject traditional businesses to work independently.
Over recent years attention has been drawn to the lack of women working in tech companies. In 2014, Google, Facebook and Apple (among others) released data showing men outnumbered women two to one, and in technology roles the ratio rises to four to one and higher.
But what can tech companies do to attract these millennial and female employees to their organisations to close the talent gap?
Universum completed a study investigating what it is that university students are looking for in future technology employers and how companies can take their responses on board when recruiting graduates.
What are university students’ top career goals?
Universum asked university students planning to work in the tech industry what their top three career goals are. The most frequent responses were work-life balance (56%) and security & stability (41%).
Ways that some companies are trying to address the demand for work-life-balance, is by building a fun company culture and offering flexible work hours.
Respondents were asked whether they prioritise being competitively or intellectually challenged, which received a varied response, depending on region. It was found that students in the US, for example, are much more likely to choose intellectual or competitive challenges over their peers in the APAC countries.
Those looking to enter a career in the tech industry did not respond much differently to those in other sectors, other than that they have a desire to become technical or functional experts and are more likely to want a job that allows them to be entrepreneurial or creative.
What qualities do university students want in an employer?
Students surveyed were then asked what attributes they look for in a future employer and it was discovered that those aiming to work in the tech industry place the highest level of importance on innovation and attractiveness of a company’s product/service lines.
Universum’s ‘Iris’ is a Social Media Stock Index named that tracks the social media activity of the 400 largest companies in the US and can help to identify themes in what employer branding messages are sent out from the organisations. It was found that GE use quirky humour in their social media content that will appear to their target market; for example a “Badass Machines” Pinterest board and Slo Mo channel on YouTube.
What do university students look for in a future job?
The top response when asked about what would attract them to a job, is the opportunity for training and development (50%), followed by secure employment and challenging work.
Secure employment was found to be much more important to students in the US than those in APAC countries, who look for flexible working conditions. A variety of assignments was something that those in Europe and the US think is important in a job.
When it comes to those wanting to enter a career in technology, more than half want a creative and dynamic working environment (55%), followed by a friendly work environment (49%). It looks like the pressure is on for tech companies to ensure the workplace is a fun environment to attract these millennial candidates.
What channels can employers reach new talent on?
The top three channels used by students to learn about potential employers are their website (65%), social media (60%) and career fairs (51%).
It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that students seeking tech industry jobs use social media to research employers more than those looking to enter other industries. Though building a social media presence is very important with the rising number of people turning to these channels to find information on the company, the company website is still the first point of call and should not be forgotten about and should still be used to create a positive employer brand that will attract talent.
What does this mean for employers?
To fill the talent gap, technology companies need to look ahead and identify what skills they will require from their employees in the future and how they would like the company to grow.
Employers need to improve their use of digital channels, as this is where they will attract a diverse base of talent. Strategy should vary depending on the region being targeted, as students in different parts of the world consume information in different ways and seek different qualities in employers. The future of these companies does not just lie on new talent however, and organisations should also focus on training their existing workforce to introduce new skills that will be needed in the years to come.
In order for tech companies to optimise their talent attraction on digital channels, they must ensure that their HR and recruiting staff are proficient in using the right tools and skills to carry out the task successfully. In order to create a great employer brand online, there must be collaboration between HR and the marketing team, as they will have the best idea about how to engage the organisation’s audience through social media.