Soft skills are the new power skills for IT talent

Employers need to be more creative and innovative in their talent strategy approach.

While IT skills needs are evolving faster than ever, and specialized technology talent is at a premium, critical soft skills, aka ‘power skills’ are being neglected in the recruitment and resourcing process. Despite continued talk of the crucial nature of upskilling and reskilling, latent potential remains untapped among workers in the middle of the tech talent pyramid.

‘The New Age of Tech Talent,’ a report from Experis, a global leader in IT professional resourcing and managed services and part of ManpowerGroup, finds that employers need to be more creative and agile in their talent strategy – both inside and outside their organizations. The research suggests that HR leaders should be guided by workforce data, a clear talent philosophy and a willingness to experiment.

“The IT sector is growing quickly,” said Jonas Prising, Chairman and CEO of ManpowerGroup. “While there is an acute demand for highly technical candidates, great potential lies within adaptable generalists’ candidates that is frequently untapped. This can be detrimental as the soft skills these individuals possess are often the most challenging to find. Companies can look within to fully explore workforce potential and reskill employees to fill gaps and meet their talent needs.”

When asked why they were having difficulty filling tech roles, 34% of hiring managers said candidates did not have the right technical skills, 32% said they didn’t have the right relevant experience, and 27% said they didn’t have the right soft skills. The research also cites that 22% of hiring managers have the greatest difficulty finding IT project managers, followed by cybersecurity analysts, software developers, and AI/machine learning specialists (all 20%). The top soft skills employers report are in demand for tech roles include Critical Thinking & Analysis, Creativity & Originality, Reasoning & Problem-Solving, Reliability & Self Discipline, and Resilience & Adaptability.*

Ger Doyle, Head of Experis, Digital & Business Innovation adds, “Regardless of sector, the conversation about the technology skills gap often focuses on the most senior and junior roles and ignores existing talent who have strong technical skills and an intuitive sense of the business but may lack exposure to emerging technologies and a roadmap for their future career development.”

With so many organizations competing to recruit IT workers from the same talent pool, there is a golden opportunity for employers to look further afield. Often, candidates are overlooked because they lack traditional qualifications. Further, recruiting strategies that embrace greater gender and ethnic diversity are also significant in the search for the right IT talent.

Findings published in ‘The New Age of Tech Talent’ are based on a survey of 40,000 employers in 40 countries and reveal organizations are accelerating investment in technology and prioritizing Cyber Security (46%), Internet of Things (IoT), (44%) E-Commerce platforms (43%) and Cloud Computing (41%).*

The report underscores four ways organizations can bring new thinking to life:

  • Open the Middle: One in five organizations globally is having trouble finding skilled tech talent, and IT/data skills are the most difficult to find for 30% of organizations. Companies need to increasingly look inward to fill the roles they need, taping workforce potential and reskilling employees to fill gaps and meet the challenges ahead.
  • Find the Hidden Talent: The reality of the technology sector is that employers need to be more adaptable, unlocking new sources of talent, and recruit based on potential, not necessarily past experience. Traditional approaches focused on filtering candidates according to qualifications. and experiences may not identify those recruits who have raw qualities that employers require.
  • Trust the Data Strategy: To get better results from recruitment, retention and HR strategies companies can leverage data-analytics tools to make better decisions and reduce attrition. As one in three organizations globally plan to invest more in AI technology including machine learning, over the next year, aptitude and personality assessment tools will enable more effective hiring decisions.
  • Lead with Confidence: Companies guided by culture and values will be those that best adapt to the new workforce reality and win the war on talent. Significantly, 7 in 10 workers say having leaders that they can trust, and follow is important to them, and 2 in 3 want to work for organizations that share their values.

If you think about it, skills in the past had a much longer lifespan of several years, while now the average relevance of skills is closer to three years in duration. This is one of the reasons why we make significant investments on continuous learning.

New skills and expertise are built both through classroom training as well as – to a large extent – through
experience and exposure. Such a pace of change can have a dramatic impact: 98% of potential data science candidates would be screened out by employers stipulating just four technical requirements and three years of work experience. When asked why they were having difficulty filling technology roles, 34% of hiring managers
responding to the Q3 2022 ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey said not enough candidates had the correct technical skills, and 32% said they didn’t have enough relevant experience. More than a quarter (27%) said they lacked the right soft skills.

Leaders have an opportunity to harness digital technologies to support their teams in a wide range of value-added activities — everything from predictive analytics technologies that give early warning of labor demand and supply issues, to sentiment analysis that tracks employee engagement. To exploit these tools’ full potential, talent leaders will need the skills to harness them.

“We have had to transform our function in three years,” says Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Addie van Rooij. “Out of 200 job roles, I now have 100 technical role descriptions. They did not know anything about systems, tools and technology before. I told them three years ago that I need people who can help me program a robot or tell me which is the most intuitive HR application.”


Leave a Comment

Related posts