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The tech skills gap: What it is, why it exists, and how to close it in 2024

The tech skills gap: What it is, why it exists, and how to close it in 2024 featured image

Nothing keeps employers up at night like the tech skills gap. Technology is evolving rapidly, but tech talent is hard to find, recruitment is competitive, and even non-tech roles are increasingly requiring digital skills – which workers are sometimes reluctant to learn.  

This gap has persisted for years, and knowing what the future of work holds is hard. But waiting on the sidelines for a solution to appear isn’t an option

In this guide, we explain why 2024 is a golden year to bridge the gap and outline the steps you can take to upskill your existing workforce, land the best tech talent for your company, and get ahead of the

What is the tech skills gap, and why is it such a big problem? 

Simply put, the tech skills gap refers to the growing divide between the technology skills that employers need and the skills that the workforce has. 

A recent survey by Robert Half showed that 95% of tech managers have difficulty finding skilled talent. Sixty-nine percent have struggled with backfilling existing roles, while 29% have reported challenges with hiring for new tech roles. 

So, which job areas does this gap impact?

We believe that tech talent shortages most likely impact the following areas: 

  • Cybersecurity: With cyber threats more sophisticated than ever, skilled cybersecurity professionals are in demand. 

  • Software development: Companies need more software developers to keep up with rapid technological changes and the growing need for custom software solutions. 

  • Data analysis and data science: Today’s businesses need skilled data analysts and scientists to capture, interpret, and use various data to drive growth. 

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML): These are driving innovation in every field – from healthcare to finance to manufacturing – so the demand for AI and ML specialists is high. 

  • Cloud computing: As more companies migrate to cloud platforms, the need for cloud computing professionals surges. 

  • Emerging technologies: More firms are integrating blockchain, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and other emerging technologies into their businesses and consumer products, increasing the need for experts in these fields. 

  • Tech support and IT services: As technology takes center stage in nearly every industry, companies need professionals to support their tech systems. 

  • Non-tech roles: The world is becoming increasingly digital, and tech touches nearly every role. The workforce at large must be more tech-savvy. 

The tech skills gap can lead to many problems for your business. It can set you back in your plans to innovate, hinder opportunities and growth prospects, and prevent you from meeting customer needs. 

Why is there a technology skills gap?

1. Post-pandemic hiring spree

2. Rapid evolution of technology 

3. Business growth and digitization

4. Inadequate and outdated training

5. Limited talent pool and poor hiring 

These factors have contributed to the tech talent shortage over the past few years.

1. Post-pandemic hiring spree 

Our conversation with HR Expert Yashna Wahal gave us some interesting insights into what’s causing the tech skills gap. 

"When the pandemic started, everyone relied on technology more. People worked from home, participated in online exercise classes, had food and groceries delivered through online apps, and watched TV shows and movies on OTT platforms. 

To keep up with consumer demand, businesses made tons of tech hires and paid them handsomely. Some companies essentially hoarded tech talent, making them less available for others, even after the need for tech cooled down post pandemic."

In fact, Forbes reported that 29% of businesses couldn’t hire good tech talent because certain industries and companies pulled them in with higher salary offers. 

2. Rapid evolution of technology 

McKinsey conducted a study showing how employers’ tech needs change over time. For instance, 10% of employers asked for skills in MySQL in 2018, but this dropped to 8% in 2022.

Popular tech skills today may be obsolete tomorrow, and workers aren’t reskilling fast enough. 

Additionally, the rise of AI has significantly contributed to the war for talent.  We spoke to legal writer Kate Stacey about this.  

"More workplaces are turning to AI to streamline operations, increase productivity, and maintain a competitive edge. According to Gartner, over 80% of organizations will have either used generative AI or implemented generative AI-enabled apps in a production setting."

AI is dominating the tech scene, but currently, there are only about 150,000 skilled AI engineers worldwide, compared to 29 million software engineers. The World Economic Forum suggested that over 40% of the workforce might need to reskill in the next three years due to AI's breakthrough. 

3. Business growth and digitization

When companies expand their teams, scale their offerings, or grow their customer bases, they rely more on technology to automate and streamline processes. Handling their operations manually becomes increasingly challenging. 

Imagine a small mom-and-pop shop that once catered to only walk-in customers and has now added an online model. They must adopt software and employ people who understand digital systems. But even their existing workforce – the salesperson, store manager, customer service agent, etc. – will need to learn to use new systems efficiently, and some are reluctant. 

According to Robert Half’s survey, 62% of tech managers were hiring employees due to business growth and demands. 

4. Inadequate and outdated training

According to Forbes’ report, over a third of businesses believe the tech skills gap stems from a lack of good training to help talent stay current with evolving needs. 

Ryan Seeras, Growth Product Manager here at TestGorilla, echoed this sentiment and summed up the issue well. 

"We're not just talking hardware doubling in speed every two years anymore; with AI, it feels like the goalposts are moving every three months. Keeping up is a huge task for anyone, let alone trying to upscale or develop curriculums around it. 

Then there's this disconnect between what we're taught and the actual job requirements. What you learn in school versus what the world expects from you couldn't be more different, especially in tech."

5. Limited talent pool and bad hiring

Clearly, the demand for tech is growing. But what’s also widening the tech skills gap is the low supply of skilled labor, plus bad hiring methods. Here are some factors that lead to fewer skilled tech workers. 

Gender diversity and racial minorities 

Women and racial minorities are significantly underrepresented in the tech industry, limiting your access to a wider, more diverse pool talent. 

Jefferson Frank, a recruiting agency focused on Amazon Web Services (AWS), found that women comprise just 26% of computer-related roles and 29% of tech leadership positions. Moreover, 50% of women are likely to leave their tech jobs by the age of 35, compared to 20% in other industries. 

Further, the study found that Black professionals account for only 4% of all tech employees, and overall, only 22% of tech workers in the US are ethnic minorities. 

These issues are typically due to unconscious biases in hiring, a lack of support and mentorship, and persistent stereotypes that deter these individuals from pursuing tech careers. 

Degree requirements 

Many tech companies look for candidates with degrees in computer science or related fields. In fact, the above research showed that 40% of respondents working in the AWS ecosystem had bachelor’s degrees, and 27% held master’s degrees. 

Not every skilled tech professional has the means to pursue a college education. Demanding college degrees exclude STARs – workers skilled through alternative routes such as coding bootcamps, online courses, or self-learning – further widening the skills gap. 

Geographic limitations 

Tech jobs are often concentrated in certain “tech hubs,” limiting the candidate pool to talent living in or willing to move to those locations. 

With these restrictions in place, you could be missing out on highly skilled individuals who can’t relocate due to personal or financial reasons or don’t have a legal right to work in that location. 

Over or under-reliance on technical skills in the assessment process

We’ve already seen enough evidence that the tech skills your company needs are changing quickly. Despite this, many employers focus solely on technical skills when looking for tech candidates, often neglecting soft skills like adaptability and willingness to learn. Tech employees with these attributes will be motivated and easier to train when it’s time for upskilling.

Conversely, employers often forget to evaluate candidates’ tech-savviness if their roles aren’t tech-based. Imagine hiring a restaurant manager who’s skilled at restaurant operations and personable but struggles to use the reservation and table management software – not ideal.

Why 2024 is poised to narrow the tech skills gap

Here’s why we think 2024 is a great year to source and hire better tech talent. 

Cooling labor markets 

A recent report by the SHRM predicts that unemployment will slightly increase and labor markets will begin cooling in 2024. Some of this is due to layoffs in the tech sector caused by over-hiring during the pandemic. Plus, companies seem to be focusing on backfilling roles and posting fewer new jobs. 

Additionally, wages aren’t growing at the pace they were over the last few years. This means there could be more talent in the market actively looking for work, and more businesses will be able to afford tech talent – putting you in a better position to recruit them for your open or new roles.  

The rise of Gen Z in the workforce

Gen Z – those born between 1997 and 2012 – is expected to make up nearly a third of the workforce by 2025. These digital natives are more adept at adopting new technology and are in a great position to enter the tech labor force or coach other colleagues.

Remote and hybrid working removes geographical barriers 

Gallup, an analytics and advisory firm, found that half of US employees have remote-capable jobs – meaning they can perform their roles entirely remotely. Further, their survey showed that six in 10 remote-capable employees want hybrid work arrangements, about a third prefer fully remote work, and less than 10% want to work full time from the office. 

Many employers are considering these preferences. Forbes recently reported that 62% of US companies offered flexible working arrangements by the end of 2023, compared to 51% at the start of the year. 

With flexible and remote working becoming more common, employers are in an excellent position to offer candidates – especially tech candidates – hybrid or remote roles, thus expanding their talent pool beyond geographical borders. 

Shift towards skills-based hiring 

More companies are using skills-based hiring methods to assess candidates' skills objectively rather than hiring them for their backgrounds or college degrees. This approach opens your application to skilled candidates from all walks of life and eliminates the unconscious biases and stereotypes that hamper good hiring decisions. 

Our latest research into 1,500 employers showed that over 70% had switched to a skills-based hiring approach in 2023. Here’s why:

  • 92% felt it helped them identify talented candidates

  • 82% of companies made faster hires 

  • 84% said that it had a positive impact on diversity, while 22% said it had a very positive impact

  • 89% recruited candidates they were able to retain longer term 

Additionally, in 2024, more employers have looked beyond technical skills and evaluated candidates on soft skills, behavioral attributes, and cultural contributions. 

Forbes asked businesses about the most valuable skills for IT professionals. Fifty-five percent answered that problem-solving, critical thinking, and troubleshooting abilities were the most important. About 52% said adaptability, willingness to learn, and embracing change were key, while 40% felt effective communication was vital.  

This change in outlook and hiring practices enables you to access larger talent pools and find candidates with the right skills or the ability to learn new skills. 

How to bridge the tech skills gap in 2024

Here’s how you narrow the tech skills gap in your company.  

1. Tap into STARs and career switchers 

2. Consider multi-level talent assessments

3. Create innovative training programs 

4. Build a positive work environment 

1. Tap into career switchers and STARs to find tech talent

We strongly believe that if you stop putting candidates in boxes and look beyond their degrees, you’ll find a large pool of STARs – plus many individuals actively looking to switch careers

We spoke to Gustavo Imhof, Senior Product Manager at TestGorilla, who spent nearly five years working on bootcamps for career switchers. Gustavo’s perspective on this subject is thought-provoking: 

The narrative often centers around a tech skill gap, yet my encounters with hundreds of people making the leap into tech paint a different picture. These individuals possess the necessary skills but lack opportunities. The real gap lies in the inability of companies to recognize and validate this emerging talent: So there isn't really a skill gap, there is a discovery gap.

To really discover the hidden workers in tech, you must go beyond traditional job boards and replace limiting practices like campus hiring. Consider these alternative sourcing strategies to find good talent.

  • Explore technologists’ work on platforms like GitHub, Kaggle, and StackOverflow 

  • Attend or host tech careers fairs to help candidates learn more about your company 

  • Sponsor tech competitions and hackathons to identify skilled talent 

  • Offer internships or apprenticeships that give workers hands-on training before you hire them 

  • Connect with the tech community on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram so you can spot and directly reach out to impressive individuals 

Once you’ve found top candidates, address the second part of Gustavo's advice: validate their skills to shortlist and select the best ones. 

2. Consider multi-measure talent assessments

The best way to evaluate candidates’ skills is through talent assessments. These include online tests you can roll out to applicants during hiring. You can test candidates on multiple levels, including: 

  • Job-specific skills

  • Technology skills 

  • Cognitive abilities 

  • Situational judgment 

  • Personality traits 

  • Cultural contributions

Talent assessments effectively assess whether your tech candidates have the skills needed for a particular job or the aptitude to learn and upskill as needed. 

Plus, they’re objective – removing any biases or stereotypes that might restrict you from hiring talented individuals and closing your tech skills gap. 

Finally, you can use talent assessments to understand the skills of your existing team members. According to McKinsey, 82% of global executives believe that upskilling internal candidates is a promising strategy to retain valuable knowledge and close the internal skills gap, bypassing the need to hire externally. 

3. Create innovative learning programs

Research shows that most companies have yet to embrace the push for reskilling. They’re so focused on backfilling current job openings that they’ve neglected to invest in training their existing employees. 

To truly close the tech skills gap, you must pay as much attention to internal training as you should to external recruiting. Try building training programs to help both candidates and employees (including non-tech employees) learn the tech skills they need as quickly and effectively as possible. Make them engaging and easy to follow – so even your reluctant employees can benefit. 

Oleg Segal, CEO and Founder at DealA, shared an idea that’s already proven successful: 

"The real game-changer could be AI-driven educational tools and platforms that provide personalized learning experiences at scale. These tools can significantly enhance the learning curve for tech skills, making it more feasible to keep up with the industry's demands. 

In my own company, we've implemented AI-driven training modules that have substantially shortened the learning curve for new tech hires."

Additionally, HR Expert Yashna Wahal, who’s had plenty of experience in the learning and development space, also provided some tips. Wahal suggested getting Gen Z employees and existing tech talent involved in training programs by inviting them to run workshops or making them “buddies” to other tech or non-tech team members trying to upskill. 

Also, don’t consider training a short-term fix to bridge the tech skills gap. With the landscape changing quickly, you must invest in continuous learning so your employees are always equipped to adapt to changing needs. 

4. Build a positive work environment

Hiring skilled talent doesn’t end the problems. A study showed that 48% of employers believed turnover in their tech teams led to more open roles that they couldn’t fill, leaving big skills gaps in their companies. 

Therefore, in addition to hiring good talent, you should work on retaining your existing workforce by building a good culture that’s truly inclusive, recognizes your employees’ efforts, and supports them in their career plans. 

Learn more about this with our complete guide on creating a positive workplace culture. 

Close the tech discovery gap with TestGorilla

Many employers are concerned about the tech skills gap. Without the right talent, companies haven’t been able to meet existing customer demands, streamline business processes, or take advantage of emerging technologies. 

But with a shift in the labor market and changing hiring trends, you’re in an excellent position to start narrowing the gap. 

First, source tech professionals through hackathons, online communities, and tech events – or turn to your existing employees who might be looking for that next opportunity. Then, use TestGorilla’s talent assessments to validate their skills and potential so you can place them in the right positions. Finally, help all your employees – including non-tech employees – gain the digital skills they need with innovative training.

Adopting these practices can help you get ahead of the curve, beat the competition, and tap into talent that’s just waiting to be discovered. 


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