Unemployment might be low right now, but no matter how you look at it, there’s a shortage of top tech talent (and the skills gap is widening). In fact, according to CareerBuilder, as much as 60% of employers continue to struggle to fill job vacancies within three months.
While this already sounds like a considerable challenge, research suggests that things are only going to get worse. By 2030, we could be dealing with a skills shortage of more than 85.2 million people that will cost businesses as much as $8.452 trillion in lost economic opportunities.
These figures only cover financial and business services, media, telecommunications, and manufacturing. While it may not be hogging the headlines just yet, we are also experiencing a significant shortage in top tech talent who can capably fill positions in areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cybersecurity, and Quantum Computing.
In recent years. AI has experienced a period of rapid acceleration across industries. As the demand for AI skills keeps growing exponentially, employers have been struggling to identify and attract top AI engineers because there’s just not enough of them.
According to the career’s website Indeed, the demand for AI skills has more than doubled over the past three years with AI-related vacancies (as a share of all job postings) up by approximately 119%. At the same time, job-seeker interest in AI-related roles more or less leveled off.
With companies willing to pay million dollar salaries and signing bonuses, the competition within the industry is becoming more fierce than anyone imagined.
In the digital age, every company is becoming a digitally transformed technology company. This has led to an increase in demand for security professionals (that can help better secure enterprise digital assets). Furthermore, with the growing number of well-publicized data breaches, the race is on to stay one step ahead of bad actors.
However, experts forecast that as much as 3.5 million cybersecurity-related positions will remain unfilled by 2021. At present, many businesses are unable to access top cybersecurity talent because they either don't have the financial muscle to attract top consultants, or there is no available talent with the required rare skills.
The demand for cybersecurity professionals isn’t restricted to North America. In fact, the skills shortage within this space also extends to countries like Israel, Ireland, and the UK.
This translates into an enormous number of companies that are vulnerable to a data breach. In fact, this might be the primary cause that’s driving the rapid growth of security events.
If you thought the talent shortage in AI and cybersecurity were bad, it’s much worse when you consider the field of quantum computing. For decades, quantum computing was just an idea that our leading minds played around with, but that’s all changed.
It was first proposed in the early 1980s, but no one really expected to leverage the principles of quantum mechanics to build such a system. However, in recent years, scientists have proven that it’s much more than a pipe dream. Even if it’s only made on a small scale, scientists have shown that they can actually build these machines.
The scientists who are capable of building quantum computers are highly qualified and specialized physicists. As a result, it’s not surprising that there aren’t many of them around. According to Steven Girvin, a professor of physics at Yale University, “there just aren’t that many people who know how to do this.”
However, that hasn’t stopped tech giants and startups from attempting to build their own quantum machines for the commercial market and who could blame them?
Christopher Savoie, founder, and CEO of a startup called Zapata is one of them, and he attempted to overcome the skills shortage by targeting great minds who were born in Asia and Europe. While the three scientists (who specialized in quantum computing) accepted his offer, months later the State Department has yet to approve their visas.
So How Do We Overcome the Next Great Shortage of Top Tech Talent?
This is a problem that can’t be solved with an out of the box solution. Instead, enterprises have to get creative to fill the talent gap both in the short-term and the long-term.
If AI, cybersecurity, and quantum computing talent aren’t accessible within your borders, the next best option is to hire top talent from overseas. However, with immigration rules becoming tougher every year, this might not be a viable option (and yes, we’re still closely monitoring the situation at Zapata).
So is outsourcing the answer?
It can be, but as the competition within these fields heats up, you might have to fight over pools of talent located in other countries.
As a result, it might not be as simple as nearshoring your next cybersecurity project to a company in Central America. Instead, you might have to look as far as Eastern Europe or Asia to get the ball rolling.
However, these types of solutions might not be an option when it comes to quantum computing because it’s highly specialized and there’s probably only a handful of scientists who will even qualify for the job.
Whether you hire top talent from overseas or offshore your next AI project, these are all short-term solutions. In the long run, companies should invest in their employees to help them cross-train or even make a career change.
For example, LinkedIn’s internal AI Academy can work as an excellent model for the rest of us to follow. To meet the talent shortage head-on, the professional social networking giant is investing in their engineers, product managers, and other employees to fill the talent gap from within.
Enterprises should also look to the future and work with academic institutions to encourage kids to pursue a future in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This initiative can also be promoted by conducting workshops at high schools, sponsoring scholarship programs, and offering tuition reimbursement.
You can also get highly creative and generate some interest in these careers. For example, last year, the Girls Scouts of the USA started offering a cybersecurity badge along with their traditional cooking and camping badges.
Only time will tell if these initiatives will help avert a crisis within these industries in the years to come. However, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.