Almost half of the respondents (39 percent) of NNIT's Expectation Barometer 2021 survey point to a lack of access to talent with the right qualifications as the biggest long-term challenge - and with good reason. Attracting the right talent and retaining these employees is vital in an ever-changing and hyper-digital world.
The past year’s lockdowns and social distancing efforts have been tiring and limiting, but they have also paved the way for a growing awareness surrounding digital opportunities for businesses. Remote work and doing business online have now become the new normal, and companies are now busy upgrading their IT capabilities and IT infrastructure, which requires the right digital specialists. However, IT specialists do not grow on trees.
Right now, the demand is so great that it could hold companies back from realizing their growth ambitions after the pandemic. A third of respondents (33 percent) of NNIT's Expectation Barometer 2021 believe that the shortage of talent is the greatest barrier to achieving optimal agility and growth in the company.
"It is basically about supply and demand. As you move more business activities online, the need for IT skills increases. Although new IT specialists are being trained every year, most of them enter the job market before completing their education. This is a well-known problem in many companies," says Brian Troelsen, Head of Market Intelligence and Partnerships at NNIT.
Fewer world champions. More multi-artists
For 27 percent of the respondents of this year's Expectation Barometer, attracting the right employees is a top priority for companies right now - but which candidates does your company need to hire to achieve a leading position in the technology field?
According to Brian Troelsen, it is about focusing less on one-trick ponies and instead begin to identify candidates who have developed a range of different skills:
"The workplace of the future will most likely be built around agile work teams, and if you, as an employee, need to be able to work in these teams, it is a disadvantage if you are only specialized in one niche area," he says:
"My expectation is that we will start to see an increased demand for multidisciplinary IT talents. They may have a core skill, but they will also need to master other disciplines – for example creativity, design thinking, or entrepreneurship. By hiring so-called multi-artists rather than world champions, you become less vulnerable and more adaptable to change."
Artificial intelligence increases resilience
In the future, we can expect multidisciplinary candidates to be highly sought after, but specialist skills will still be crucial and necessary when managing and maintaining your critical IT infrastructure.
Why? Because new technologies are constantly poised to optimize the business and increase your competitiveness.
In NNIT's Expectation Barometer 2021, it is clear that IT specialists in AI, ML, and Data Science are in high demand. Almost half of the respondents (45 percent) believe these specialists to be the most important for the company to attract:
"Data is the new gold, and it is these specialists, who know how to extract and process the gold, who are being sought. With increased digitalization, there is more data acquisition that needs to be processed and analyzed and here, companies rely on specialists in AI, ML, and Data Science," Brian Troelsen says and adds:
"Especially after the pandemic, companies are focusing on how they can automate many of their procedures and processes that were previously manual. This requires skills and knowledge within artificial intelligence. By attracting specialists within this field, companies will strengthen their resilience and be better equipped to adapt to crises in the future.
Further down the list we find specialists in Cybersecurity and Cloud Solutions, which 36 and 32 percent of the participants of this year's Expectation Barometer consider most important to attract.
"This comes as no surprise. The cloud was created for remote access, which has naturally been a great advantage during a pandemic, characterized by social distancing. We should expect migration to the cloud to accelerate in the coming years, and this will require the right skills", says Brian Troelsen, while also commenting on the demand for Cybersecurity specialists:
"In the past year, we have seen how cyber-attacks can be devastating for your business and how they can affect your company far into the future if you do not address the issue in a timely manner. This increases the need for Cybersecurity specialists who can both navigate safely through hacker-attacks and keep the digital bandits at bay."
Four key factors: How to attract and retain talent
It is one thing to be aware of which tech talents are needed to help you seize the many opportunities in the digital landscape, but it is another thing altogether knowing how to attract and retain them, so that there is no satisfactory alternative out on the job market.
Brit Kannegaard-Johannesen, Senior Vice President, People, Communication, Marketing and Quality in NNIT suggests four key factors that affect whether it is you or your competitor who hires the talent:
- 1. Diversity: For many, it is increasingly important to work for an employer who accommodates, understands, and includes. Be clear about what diversity means in your particular company and how it benefits the employees – regarding nationality, race, religion, sexuality, and gender.
- 2. Purpose: For many – mainly the younger generation – a job is not just a job. It must be meaningful and serve a higher purpose. That is why many people today are looking for a job where they can endorse and identify with the "product". In this context, sustainability is a key issue right now.
- 3. Development: Be explicit about how the individual employee can improve within the framework of the company. Can you influence the amount and the complexity of the professional tasks yourself? Is there a possibility for further training and education, or is there a natural career path to follow?
- 4. Working conditions: As an employee, do you have to show up for work physically, or can you be loosely connected to the company or work offshore? Can you work from home? Are there company outings? Social activities? Flexible hours? Highlight the job’s various benefits.
How far have you come in your journey towards digital resilience?
You can still participate in NNIT’s Expectation Barometer 2021. Taking the test will give you a digital resilience score and the opportunity to benchmark yourself against nine digital leaders from some of Denmark’s largest companies. Take the test here.