Like the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot and other popular folklore, the legend of the ‘skills gap’ has been ubiquitous for quite some time. The skills gap refers to the mismatch between the skills that job seekers possess and the skills that companies (particularly technology companies) prioritize in potential employees.
As with mystical monsters and sea creatures, many engineering leaders have pondered over the past few years: does it actually exist?
The research seems to say yes. By 2030, the digital skills gap will leave around 85 million job vacancies. The impact on the workforce could result in missed targets, increased stress and a projected loss of approximately $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenue.
This research does not paint a complete or accurate picture. The “skills gap” is really a recruitment gap, where companies don’t look beyond their predetermined, constraining job qualifications or the usual pools of candidates to bring on candidates from less-traditional backgrounds who have provided them with much-needed skills.
Still think you’re not cut out for a tech job? think again Let’s take a look at how other jobs can become a role in technology.
Librarians/Educators → Information Management
Both librarians and educators have extensive experience researching and delivering the right information to the right audience. For librarians, teachers, or other related professionals looking to make the leap into technology, information management could be the right solution. When many technical problems are related to communicating and curating correct information rather than developing new software, these skills can be invaluable in increasing a team’s effectiveness.
Information management is the behind-the-scenes analysis and clarification of data that influences decision-making in organizations. Newly minted information management professionals from the education sector could jump right into the data, analyze the information and explain it to key stakeholders, as well as provide direction and guidance.
Sales, Marketing and Communication → User Experience (UX) Design
UX design is about perfecting the user’s experience with a product, website or app. UX designers have contributed to everything from branding to usability and functionality.
Sales, marketing, and communications professionals are well suited to UX design because they have a nuanced understanding of how audiences (often non-technical people) are likely to interact with, use, and benefit from a tool. This expertise, coupled with strong written and oral communication skills, means they can help create more user-friendly and intuitive experiences.
Communicating “what”, “where”, “how” and “when” with end users is the name of the game. The same skills used to communicate with external stakeholders can be applied directly to designing the perfect user experience.
Personnel, law and public service → Technical project management
HR, legal and other public servants are often process-oriented. Each of these sectors is teeming with talent who have the ability to see the small details in relation to the big picture, also known as “systems thinking”. Because of this, these people make excellent technical project managers.
Project managers have to deal with many moving parts at once, and adaptability and problem-solving are valued. Multitasking, people management, and long-term planning skills help lawyers, human resource managers, and government employees transition more smoothly into technical project management.
Chemical, Civil and Mechanical Engineers → Software Engineering
Engineers are usually process-oriented and have a knack for problem-solving. Many of the skills that make great chemical, civil, and mechanical engineers—systems understanding and analysis, expertise in network/interaction effects, an understanding of feedback loops and implications, and experience with safety and impact assessments—are common to software engineering .
The ability to analyze, design and test complex systems is an essential tenet of engineering in the physical and digital world. Current software architecture and design problems often revolve around the scale, resilience, and performance of complex networks, all of which can be evaluated against the backdrop of older engineering disciplines.
Unfortunately, as long as we perpetuate the myth that working in technology requires a consistent resume, the skills gap will “exist”. And as long as the industry persists in hiring from this limited perspective, we will continue to build teams that are not as capable or responsive to the growing complexities of our users’ and the world’s needs. Examining what skills we need to hire for and focusing on where else to find those skills will strengthen our ability to build and unlock strong, reliable, and needed technology.
Kathryn T. Kun is Director of Information Security at Forter.