The End of One-Size-Fits-All Technology Talent is Here   

The End of One-Size-Fits-All Technology Talent is Here   

In today’s business world, it’s survival of the digitally fittest. There’s an AI arms race underway, as companies attempt to capitalize on operational efficiencies and business differentiation made possible by technology innovation.  

But there’s a giant roadblock in the way. Many companies have a strategy, but what they lack is a team to execute on it.    

While the tech talent shortage has plagued businesses for years, it’s about to get worse—and much more costly. More than 85 million jobs might remain unfilled by 2030 because there simply aren’t enough skilled workers available.   

If this prediction comes true, the overall financial impact could amount to $8.5 trillion in lost annual revenue for businesses.   

By some accounts these numbers could be conservative, and here’s why. Back in 2021, IBM found that the shelf life of technical skills had fallen to just 2.5 years. That number will continue to drop as the pace of tech innovation rises, thanks in large part to advancements in AI.   

In simple terms: as tech evolves, so, too, do the skills today’s workers need to have.   

As a result, the skills gap is widening by the second. To execute their strategic digital initiatives, IT leaders will need to reimagine the capabilities they seek out when building their teams.  

Making a case for tech specialists  

Much like other fields, the tech industry consists of both generalists and specialists.  

Tech generalists have a wide range of knowledge, skills, and experience within multiple areas of IT. Oftentimes generalists are on a career path to become people managers or department leaders. They know enough about each person’s role to effectively manage them and understand a company’s overall IT operations well enough to move a strategy forward.   

Tech specialists are experts in a certain area of IT. Their specialization runs the gamut, from niche IT industries and areas of technology to specific tech solutions and methodologies. Specialists are in high demand. They bounce between companies or projects as their specific skills are needed for mission-critical initiatives.   

Tech specialists with very specific skill sets execute today’s digital transformations. Think IT talent with deep expertise within a particular product suite. Or experience managing integrations between two different technologies. These resources are the ones that truly move the needle on digital initiatives, yet hard to find in the open job market.    

Why tech specialists are often engaged as consultants  

Tech generalists are great for full-time roles where they can influence a company’s IT strategy and operations over time. Tech specialists often work as consultants for several reasons.  

First, tech workers are notorious for being transient, moving between roles and companies and even industries frequently. For specialists in particular, working in contract positions allows them to continuously learn new skills, pick up experience more quickly, and earn more income with each new project.   

The second reason is because of their ability to work anywhere. IT employees were early adopters of remote work, and still represent the industry with the biggest share of remote workers at 68%. The ability to work remotely comes with access to more opportunities, making consulting a viable type of work arrangement for tech specialists.   

A third reason is the speed at which tech skill needs change. Oftentimes tech specialists are needed to fill a temporary skill gap or for a particular project. They can build a successful career by becoming an expert at integrating two particular solutions or implementing a specific technology in a healthcare tech environment, for example. Working as a consultant gives them the ability to develop this expertise.   

Gaining access to tech specialists  

IT leaders have several options for engaging tech specialists. They can hire them as employees, reskilling them over time to continue filling skill gaps across their team. This process, of course, takes significant resources to manage in house, but can be effective for those businesses with the financial means. It’s also appealing for specialists looking for employment stability without sacrificing career goals.  

Another option is to access these specialists through a staffing firm, capitalizing on their networks of tech resources. This is an effective way to bring in niche talent temporarily to meet skill needs, especially if businesses lack experienced, networked tech recruiters. However, the tradeoff is that this talent comes at a higher price tag, given the supply and demand imbalance for specialists.  

A third option is to partner with a Hire-Train-Deploy company like Smoothstack. These providers hire early-career software developers, take them through a custom, specialized training program, and deploy them at Fortune 500 and government agencies to work within IT teams on mission-critical projects. Developers go through rigorous training to become tech specialists in areas determined by clients. Smoothstack’s technology partnerships, like the one we just announced with Workday, ensure that these tech specialists have the exact skills to deliver.   

While it might seem counterintuitive, the bigger the world of technology gets, the more specific the need for talent becomes. Tech has become so complex that it takes experts to help companies implement, maintain, and optimize it within their IT environment. 

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