The technology talent gap is the working theory that there aren’t enough qualified individuals with the skills to enter and support the technology industry. After the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, a new workforce entered the picture with new expectations of their working methods for a newly changed industry. The speakers of this roundtable discuss how they have adapted to hybrid working models and the challenges they have faced within their organisations.
With Peter Stojanovic moderating this roundtable debate, the speakers include:
- Danny Attias, CDIO, London Business School
- Katie Nykanen, CTO, QA Ltd
- Conor Whelan, CIOO, Experian
New workforce, new needs
“A number of perfect storms seemed to happen at the same time”, stated CIOO of Experian, Conor Whelan. He argued that with Brexit, the pandemic and the current macroeconomic environment, Experian finds this a “tough environment” to hire new talent. Having adopted a fully hybrid working model, the company has employees who are fully remote, while others tend to come into the office on a more regular basis. Conor noted that up to 50 percent of the workforce has returned to the office. “We’ve tried not to have a dicta across the whole organisation and give some flexibility to the teams”, he said.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, QA Ltd hired a substantial number of remote workers. The company’s CTO, Katie Nykanen, said: “Being central London based, the challenge is higher in getting that talent in London”. She noted that having the flexibility of hiring people anywhere in the UK has worked well for the organisation. Despite being fully hybrid, Katie stated that the technology teams have found it much easier to work together remotely. “The flexibility has definitely opened up a new market”, said Katie. She added that they will retain the hybrid model and continue to allow individual flexibility where possible. “It’s just become the norm”.
Danny Attias, CDIO at London Business School, explained that his organisation has a classroom-first policy. “Students didn’t really enjoy learning over Zoom, they paid a lot of money to do these post graduate courses and didn’t want to be online”, he said. With their business model shifting to classroom-first, staff who were client-facing had to be on-site. As for the other staff, Danny said that they were given the choice to decide what works for them. “We, as technologists, have to supply the capabilities to be hybrid and then work our way around that over the coming years”, he said.
Adaptation challenges and the technology gap
When it comes to some of the higher education establishments, QA Limited has needs to get students in the classroom. One solution is bringing in international students who will visit the campus and attend classes in person. While she believes that things have settled down, Katie stated that hybrid working isn’t the issue – it’s hybrid learning. “We found that the learning experience for both the trainer and the delegate is very poor”, she said. What they find challenging is trying to engage with half the people on the camera while the other half are in the room. As a result, the company has decided to run events that are either fully remote or fully in-person. “That’s something we decided strategically we’re not going to do”.
Conor agreed with Katie’s take on the hybrid model. “When you have half and half… it’s really tough and I blame technology”, he said. He argued that technology has not advanced fast enough to “allow that fully immersive remote and in-person experience”. He has found that people in the office communicate a lot faster than those online, who can’t keep up with the conversation.
Moderator Peter Stojanovic asked the speakers what effect the technology talent gap has had on their organisations. “We’re not going out and paying the highest possible salaries to recruit the best possible engineers or the best possible talent out there”, said Danny. He argued this is because they are competing with companies like Microsoft, Google and even Tesla. To solve this issue, Danny’s company runs apprenticeships and schemes for people doing career changes as well as training software developers. On the other hand, he highlighted that “trying to cultivate the talent from within” is equally as important.
This roundtable was recorded at The Studio and made in partnership with Cisco. To find out more about The Studio, click here.