As the number of open tech jobs continues to skyrocket, tech talent is at a premium. Traditional sources for teaching the skills necessary to fill these roles are struggling to keep up, and this talent gap is driving wages higher and higher. In the absence of a proper system to help cultivate a bigger crop of skilled tech talent, incumbent workers who can handle these roles tend to jump from job to job, leading to the poaching of talent by competitors.
To help corral this issue, the H-1B visa was created, which helps companies hire international talent with specialized tech skills. The H-1B visa is good for up to three years and requires recipients to have at least a bachelor’s degree in their field. But in recent years, larger consulting companies have taken advantage of the H-1B program. Some companies have used the skills of thousands of foreign workers to gain large consulting contracts.
What is it about foreign talent that appeals to consulting and tech companies? Why don’t they simply find talent locally? Around the United States, there are large populations of unemployed or underemployed individuals with the drive, passion, and aptitude to succeed in tech roles — and it's up to organizations to find and nurture that local talent.
Paper Profiles Aren’t Everything
Hiring processes across the country are often overly formalized and focus solely on credentials, which forces HR departments to focus their time and attention on candidates who check all the boxes on paper. Unfortunately, there might not be enough candidates in the United States whose résumés do that.
But résumés aren’t all they’re cracked up to be; out of all new hires, 46% last only a month, but a mere 11% of that turnover is due to a lack of tech skills. These people simply lack the opportunities to realize their potential.
Companies hoping to hire and train talent locally should take these three steps to maximize their talent pool:
1. Scout every local talent source.
Between universities, community colleges, and local training programs, your community is likely rife with untapped talent. Use every source available to fill your company’s needs — diversity of resources will allow you to create a highly tailored talent pipeline.
BlackRock, for example, has created talent policies and practices that are both globally focused and relevant to its local community. The company has established a program for graduate recruitment all over the world by building relationships with area business schools and universities. By uniting these efforts across locations with its We are one BlackRock initiative and its workshops about guiding principles, everyone participating feels like an equal member of the BlackRock initiative.
2. Change your hiring process.
Put more focus on competencies, not just credentials. This shift in priorities will open up your recruiting efforts to a much wider pool of applicants. Companies have begun looking past traditional degrees in the qualifying processes. Penguin Random House, for one, has said that degrees are misleading. EY, for another, has started hiding typical credentials from hiring managers. Deloitte has started ignoring candidates’ schools during the hiring process, and Google has stated frankly that degrees are 'worthless as a criteria for hiring.'
3. Create apprenticeship and internship programs.
Craft programs that focus on helping entry-level employees gain the skills and know-how necessary to succeed long-term in your organization. In a study conducted at Case Western Reserve University in concert with the U.S. Department of Commerce, apprenticeship programs were discovered to yield greater productivity by reducing employee errors and turnover as well as increasing employee engagement.
These programs are also thought to boost loyalty among employees and cut overall hiring costs. In fact, international studies show that every dollar employers spend on apprenticeships earns them back (on average) $1.47 in productivity, waste reduction, and increased innovation.
The tech talent pipeline in the United States has long been stifled, but this problem can’t be solved by one person or organization alone. Resolving the tech hiring crisis will require a community effort — and companies will need to be just as invested in the solution as educators. Follow the three steps above to do your part to find untapped tech talent. It might be closer than you think.