How the Great Resignation Has Widened The Tech Gap by@ShannonFlynn

How the Great Resignation Has Widened The Tech Gap

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Tech jobs have been in demand since the start of the digital revolution. Now, virtually all job types across industries have opened up amid waves of people leaving their positions. Unsurprisingly, this Great Resignation, as some have dubbed it, has heavily impacted the tech jobs market.

In 2021, an average 3.98 million workers quit their jobs each month, the highest average since the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) started reporting. That figure did not drop below 4 million between June and December. So, what’s behind the Great Resignation, and how has it affected the existing tech gap?

The Pre-Resignation Tech Gap

Even before the Great Resignation, tech talent experienced significant shortages. Tech jobs still outnumbered qualified workers by 3 million in 2016. In 2019, experts predicted that the U.S. would face a shortage of 6 million science and tech workers by 2030.

This pre-pandemic talent shortage was mostly a matter of simple supply and demand. Technology adoption far outpaced the number of people who pursued related degrees, certifications and careers. With the tech share of the U.S. GDP increasing sixfold since 1980, it’s little wonder that supply didn’t couldn’t keep up with demand.

That’s not to say that the talent pool didn’t also grow. The number of people achieving STEM bachelor’s degrees in the U.S. rose by more than 160,000 between 2010 and 2020. However, companies’ tech adoption pace still grew faster.

The Impact of the Great Resignation

While the Great Resignation didn’t cause the tech talent gap, it worsened it. Recent reports suggest that 41% of the global workforce plan on leaving their current roles within the next year. That could deal a blow to any industry, but these numbers are uniquely high in the tech industry.

Just 29% of global IT workers plan to stay in the positions they have now. That figure is even lower among young workers, with only 16% of IT employees between 19 and 29 planning to remain at their jobs. This mass migration, paired with the already significant tech talent shortage, leaves companies with a considerable gap.

Qualified tech workers were already difficult to find in such a competitive market. Now, with many current employees leaving their roles, businesses will face an even greater challenge in acquiring tech talent.

Why Did This Happen?

So, where did the Great Resignation come from? Worker attitudes in the tech industry reflect what many employees across sectors feel. Most of it comes down to feeling undervalued in their current roles, and the opening of the job market amid COVID-19 provides opportunities for employees to pursue instead.

A recent survey found that 41% of tech workers considering a job change do so because of limited career progression opportunities in their current role. Lack of flexibility came in second place, with 40% of employees citing it. Similarly, 75% of all tech workers said they feel their companies are investing more in attracting new talent than supporting current workers, and 39% cite a toxic work environment.

Tech talent isn’t becoming hard to retain just because other companies have more competitive offers. It’s largely a matter of how businesses treat their staff.

How Can Companies Adapt?

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These causes behind the Great Resignation illuminate the way forward. Businesses should focus less on attracting new workers and more on ensuring they’re enabling their current workforce. There’s economic reasoning here, too, as it costs one-half to two times an employee’s salary to replace one worker.

The most straightforward way to retain current employees is to raise salaries and benefits, but that may not be the most important change. Businesses must also invest in their career development. Providing more upward mobility, learning paths and reskilling or upskilling opportunities will offer the long-term value tech workers want.

Flexibility is another major consideration. As the previous study highlights, a lack of flexibility drives many tech employees away. If businesses offered more hybrid work opportunities and flexible hours, their employees would be more motivated to stay.

Companies must also address persistent workplace toxicity in tech. A shocking 48% of women in tech have experienced workplace harassment, and 70% say they’ve been treated differently at work because of their gender. Businesses must work with their HR departments to find and stop this workplace toxicity to create a fair environment where people, especially women, want to work.

Tech Talent Shortages Are Concerning But Not Impossible

The Great Resignation has widened an already substantial tech talent gap. While this obstacle is imposing, it’s not impossible to overcome. This movement should serve as a wake-up call for tech companies and other businesses across the globe.

If companies pay more attention to what employees want at work, they can retain more staff. As they create more positive, engaging work environments, other employees will want to come work for them, too.


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