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Reskilling returns as focus in tight tech talent workforce

Written by Technically Media CEO Chris WinkTechnical.ly’s new Culture Builder newsletter features tips on growing powerful teams and dynamic workplaces.

One of the most common emails I receive is the “how do I get into tech?” question. 

Many want to sharpen their existing skills for a more dynamic part of the economy. Others are wholesale career changers — I really do know laid-off journalists who learned to code. All of them represent “reskilling,” which is a fancy way to say getting adults in-demand skills. This answers a very real need. (Does your company hire from any reskilling programs? Respond here to me for upcoming Technical.ly reporting)

By 2030, the world will be short 85 million tech workers at a cost of $8.5 trillion in lost annual revenue, according to an influential report from Korn Ferry. Career changers are thought to be an important way to fill the 1 million open tech roles in the United States. This has fueled the rise of coding bootcamps, the first major wave in a future of reskilling and continuing education. 

Fittingly this demand for tech workers has bid up salaries over the last 20 years, driving the changeover. Nine in 10 career changers reported they moved into tech at least in part because the money was better, according to 2019 research. This is what economic change looks like.

Macroeconomic trends aside, what does this mean for hiring managers? (To hear more tips and trends, join us May 13 for Technical.ly’s Introduced conference, which has several recruiting sessions and is this year both entirely virtual and free.)

Reskilling can be split into two categories: talent retention and attraction. 

Employers are wise to invest in their existing employees. That means both helping transition employees into higher-skilled positions (cloud hosting company Linode had lots of examples like this) and professional development to keep teammates sharp in their current roles. 

Meanwhile, coding bootcamps are also in the business of “consumer reskilling,” helping professionals invest in themselves by taking a 14-week break and earning a 23% salary bump on average. This is the talent attraction bit. Helpfully many coding bootcamps champion their efforts at diversity.

If you’ve got your coding bootcamp contacts covered, remember the very point of career changers is that they can come from many different places. Tell the stories of great employees with unexpected backgrounds (I think often of the high school teacher turned Nava developer). Look at Technical.ly’s charming How I Got Here series.

I remember this D.C. event on how to improve the process for career changers. For one: Look for your own unique partnerships. Temple University’s College of Liberal Arts launched this year a geospatial data science degree program with career changers in mind. More like it are no doubt coming to answer continued market demand.

Now how do I respond to those emails asking about getting into tech work?

Get more specific than wanting to “work in tech.” To do that, dive into your local tech community’s vibrant event culture for calibration. Read Technical.ly, including helpful resources like these here. I take as many calls for more personal feedback as I can. “Welcome,” I tell them, “we need you.” 

Respectfully,

Christopher Wink

Technical.ly CEO