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Even in the face of ongoing global economic uncertainty, the Linux Foundation’s 2023 State of Tech Talent Report found that many organizations plan to increase their staff in 2023 (44%) and do not anticipate employment reductions or freezes to balance those increases. However, economic concerns did cause 59% of organizations to revise their 2023 hiring plans for tech roles, primarily by freezing new positions. This economic uncertainty is caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, including inflation and geopolitical conflicts.

“Looking across all the strategies that involved staff hiring, 56% of organizations intended to hire in 2023 even if other activities such as staff reductions or freezes were also involved,” the report said. “This is encouraging and suggests that while organizations are economically concerned about 2023, they are not amending their hiring plans.”

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Jobs focus on these technologies and types of roles

Other key findings in the report indicate that organizations increasing their hiring this year are focusing on newer technologies: cloud/containers (50%), cybersecurity (50%) and AI/ML (46%).

Another interesting finding is the shift in the types of technical roles companies are hiring. While senior technical roles have seen the biggest job cuts, new hiring focuses more on developers and IT management. This suggests organizations seek skilled individuals who can contribute to project implementation, management and technical development, the report’s authors said.

Certifications and pre-employment testing

Respondents feel certification and pre-employment testing are necessary to verify skills and address the challenges of finding the right candidate. This is useful to ensure organizations hire the right people for the job, the report said.

It also gives candidates a clear understanding of the skills they must demonstrate to succeed in the role.

SEE: Cybersecurity & IT Career Certification Pathway Training Bundle from TechRepublic Academy

Upskilling and training are key

Upskilling is top of mind. When organizations are unable to find suitable technical candidates, they reported training existing employees (58%) more often than hiring consultants (38%). In fact, respondents felt upskilling (91%) and certifications (77%) are more important than a university education (58%) to address technology needs, according to the report.

Half of organizations that are reducing staff (52%) or freezing new positions (50%) said their hiring plan involves upskilling to meet talent requirements. This suggests organizations recognize the value of investing in their existing staff, as well as the challenges of finding the right external candidates, the report said.

SEE: A recent Skillsoft report detailed the ROI of upskilling.

Some 70% of organizations surveyed are providing training opportunities for their existing staff on how to effectively use new technologies. This is a positive sign, the report noted, as it shows organizations are committed to the ongoing development of their employees and keeping staff up to date with the latest technologies and practices.

“For more than a decade, the tech training industry has been saying that upskilling the talent you have is essential to building and retaining strong tech teams,” observed Clyde Seepersad, senior vice president and general manager of Linux Foundation Training & Certification. But even though training has always been offered as a retention tool, new hires and consultants were almost always seen as the best way to bring new skills into an organization, he added.

However, the research found that upskilling and new hires are “essentially on par with each other as approaches to support the introduction of new technologies and the skills needed to manage them,” Seepersad said.

According to Seepersad, this is being driven by three factors:

  • Tech talent remains and will remain in short supply for the foreseeable future.
  • Onboarding is time-consuming, while turnover remains high.
  • Recruiting fees are high, and the timeline to get a candidate into open roles is measured in months not days.

Tips for attracting and retaining top tech talent

HR managers and their organizations should be aware that almost one out of every three new hires (29%) departs within six months of being onboarded, Seepersad said.

To remain competitive, upskilling and training is a significant strategy for all organizations — whether it is being used to help mitigate the impact of reduced headcount or as a means to acquire needed skills and knowledge, he said.

HR and hiring managers should also bear in mind that training and certifications “are increasingly more important than a university education because they provide a means to demonstrate current, proven skills and knowledge,” he said.

Further, while it is tempting to rely solely on external recruitment efforts to address the shortage, the report’s data suggests this won’t be enough.

In addition to upskilling existing employees, leaders should consider other approaches for attracting and retaining top talent, such as offering increased salaries, improving work-life balance and providing opportunities to work on open-source projects.

Additionally, organizations should commit resources to long-term talent development by getting involved in their communities and supporting organizations that help cultivate and grow young talent, the report recommends, Seepersad said.

Survey methodology

The report is based on a global survey conducted by Linux Foundation Training & Certification and Linux Foundation Research in February and March 2023. Over 400 hiring managers and staffing professionals were surveyed, addressing the needs of both end-user organizations and technology providers.

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