In a recent article BBC highlighted that we are headed towards a digital skills shortage catastrophe. The Learning & Work Institute supported this by suggesting that the number of young people taking IT subjects at GCSE has dropped 40% since 2015.
This number is not encouraging for businesses looking to transform digitally. Finding the right talent pool to support digital transformation goals is easier said than done. In this blog, we’ll discuss 5 of the biggest challenges that businesses face when trying to hire automation experts.
1. Lack of Training
The Learning & Work Institute's research reveals that 70% of young people expect employers to invest in teaching them digital skills on the job, but only half of the employers surveyed in the study are able to provide that training. This is where SOA comes in and helps bridge the gap the skills gap by developing skills of the future such as process automation and RPA. The specialisied training and hands-on experience facilitated is available for new entrants to the industry but at the same time can be used to upskill existing employees.
2. Lack of Awareness
Much has been written about the current “IT skills gap,” which deprives many businesses of the tech talent they need to achieve digital transformation. An Open University estimates that the UK skills shortage is costing organisations £6.3 billion each year. But the key question is despite the huge demand, why is there a lack of talent?
· a lack of understanding and guidance about potential career paths
· a lack of relatable role models
At SOA, we have learnt from our experience that lack of awareness of the opportunities available in a career in automation is a big roadblock. We have been working with xxx, to educate talent of the possibilities it can open up for them.
3. Matching a specialised skill set
Even if you’re looking in the right places, it’s no easy feat to find strong candidates who check all the technical boxes on your list. The software and technology field has countless disciplines, subdisciplines, and skills that offer nearly limitless possibilities for specialisation.
To successfully execute a digital transformation strategy, many businesses need access to experts in artificial intelligence or specialised technologies such as robotic process
automation (RPA). While it’s sometimes possible to train new hires or existing employees, this training can be costly in terms of time, money, and effort—and it can distract from workers’ core missions.
4. Properly assessing candidates
Of course, the job of a headhunter isn’t over once you’ve sourced a pool of candidates that match your specialised skill set—you must then assess them to verify that their knowledge and capabilities are up to par.
This part of the hiring process usually takes the form of one or more technical assessments, which may take the form of in-person or phone interviews, coding challenges, quizzes and tests, or reviews of a candidate’s previous work. Unfortunately, far too many of these technical interviews miss the mark. According to a 2020 study by Microsoft and North Carolina State University, many such interviews for software engineering positions are better at assessing a candidate’s level of performance anxiety rather than their technical competence.
When assessing technical candidates, you can take several steps to improve the instructive nature of the assessment: for example, inform the candidate about the assessment ahead of time; ask questions that are directly relevant to the role; and include both an in-person and a take-home component.
5. Offering an appealing workplace
Finding competent tech staff is challenging, but organisations also need to ensure that they offer an appealing workplace environment. This includes concerns such as:
· Is the salary commensurate with the knowledge and experience asked for, and competitive with similar positions?
· Is the work interesting and engaging?
· Does the position offer accommodations such as working from home, flexible hours, or a strong work-life balance?
· Are there other perks and benefits, such as a casual dress code, free food, or a good pension program?
The five challenges mentioned above mean that finding skilled tech staff to enact digital transformations is no easy feat—and what’s more, it may not be the best move for your organisation. Hiring, onboarding, and training the right full-time staff is a lengthy, expensive process, especially in technical fields. You must then pay the costs of a full-time employee, including salary, bonuses, and insurance.
Instead, many organisations are turning to solutions like SOA’s apprenticeship program to find automation specialists and gain access to the tech skills they need for digital transformation.