Several organizations continue to plan to increase their technical staff

According to a new Linux Foundation report, the global focus is on cloud/containers, cybersecurity, and AI/ML skills, and continuing education is key.

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Image: Vadim Pastuh/Adobe Stock

Even with continued global economic uncertainty, the Linux Foundation 2023 Technical Talent Report found that many organizations plan to expand their workforce in 2023 (44%) and do not anticipate any downsizing or freezes to balance growth. However, economic concerns have prompted 59% of organizations to revise their 2023 technician hiring plans, primarily by freezing new positions. This economic uncertainty is caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, including inflation and geopolitical conflicts.

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


Jobs focus on these technologies and role types

Other key findings from the report show that organizations scaling this year are focusing on newer technologies: cloud/containers (50%), cybersecurity (50%) and AI/ML (46%).

Another interesting finding is the shift in technical roles that companies are taking on. While senior technical roles have seen the biggest downsizing, the new hires are more focused on developers and IT management. This suggests that organizations are looking for skilled individuals who can contribute to project implementation, management and technical development, the report’s authors said.

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Qualifications and pre-employment testing

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

Additionally, candidates will have a clear understanding of the skills they need to demonstrate to be successful in the role.

SEE: Cybersecurity and IT career certification path training package from TechRepublic Academy

Continuing education and training is key

Skill development is the most important thing. When organizations are unable to find suitable technical candidates, they more often report training existing employees (58%) than hiring consultants (38%). In fact, respondents felt that continuing education (91%) and qualifications (77%) were more important than a university degree (58%) to meet technology needs.

Half (50%) of organizations with downsizing (52%) or hiring freezes said their hiring plans include upskilling to meet talent needs. This suggests that 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 continuing education.

About 70% of the surveyed organizations provide training opportunities for their existing employees on the effective use of new technologies. This is a positive sign, the report noted, as it shows that organizations are committed to continuous employee development and keeping their staff up-to-date with the latest technologies and practices.

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“For more than a decade, the technology training industry has argued that talent development is essential to building and retaining strong technology teams,” said Clyde Seepersad, vice president and general manager of Linux Foundation Training & Certification. But while training has always been offered as a retention tool, new hires and consultants have almost always been seen as the best way to bring new skills into an organisation, he added.

But the research found that in-service training and new hires were “essentially on par as approaches to support the adoption of new technologies and the skills to manage them,” Seepersad said.

According to Seepersad, this is driven by three factors:

  • Tech talent is still in short supply and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
  • Implementation is time-consuming, while traffic remains high.
  • Recruiting fees are high and the time it takes to get candidates into open roles can be measured in months, not days.

Tips for attracting and retaining top tech talent

HR leaders and their organizations need to be aware that one in three new hires (29%) leave within six months of being hired, Seepersad said.

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In order to maintain competitiveness, continuing education and training is an important strategy for all organizations – whether it serves to mitigate the effects of a reduction in staff or to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge, he said.

HR and hiring managers also need to keep in mind that training and qualifications are “increasingly more important than a university degree because they provide an opportunity to demonstrate current, proven skills and knowledge,” he said.

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

In addition to upskilling existing employees, managers should consider other approaches to attract and retain top talent, such as offering higher salaries, improving work-life balance, and the opportunity to work on open source projects.

Additionally, organizations should devote resources to long-term talent development, engaging 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. More than 400 hiring managers and staffing professionals were surveyed, addressing the needs of both end-user organizations and technology service providers.