Tech Has a Broken Talent Pyramid

The real reason your teams can’t hire fast enough

The technology industry is in a talent and diversity crisis. 93% of organisations in the UK say they have a digital skills gap. By 2030, Microsoft predicts there will be 150m jobs in tech globally, yet only 20% can be filled. When you add diversity to the equation, the picture in the UK is even starker:

Every talent team Academy speaks to is feeling this pain. We’re hearing tech recruiters and people leaders ask questions including:

  • Where do I go to find new tech talent?
  • How do I attract diverse talent when my teams are not yet diverse?
  • What will it take to retain the talent I have in this environment?

Historically, the industry has blamed this on the pipeline – there’s just not enough qualified talent available. But tech companies like Uber and our 30+ employer partners at Academy are starting to realise it’s not a pipeline problem. Tech has a talent pyramid problem.

Tech Talent Pyramid. (Senior, Experienced, New)

Figure 1: Tech Talent is Broken

Talent pyramids are important to get right 

The talent pyramid captures the levels of seniority and experience required in roles available for a given industry to function. Most industries think about this as a “pyramid” because getting the proportions right is key. In general, a functioning talent pyramid has few senior roles at the top, mostly experienced roles in the middle, and a solid foundation of entry-level roles at the bottom for new talent to enter.

Professional Services is a good example of a functioning talent pyramid. 23% of roles are entry-level, creating a reliable supply of new talent into the industry. It’s one reason why Professional Services is the top career option for university graduates. These firms have well-established grad programmes, paying good salaries and providing quality learning and development opportunities.

The bottom is falling out of the tech talent pyramid

Only 4% of jobs in tech are entry-level. Within that 4%, more than 60% of roles still require 3+ years of experience. The root cause of the talent and diversity crisis in tech is that no new talent is getting in. We need to acknowledge what this means: the bottom is falling out of the tech talent pyramid.

The tech industry has tried to avoid fixing this issue by focusing on three solutions that are falling short:

  1. Reskilling to move employees into tech roles. By 2030, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) estimates 9 in 10 people in the UK will need new skills to do their jobs. Reskilling is an attractive proposition for employers and an essential part of the equation. However, it only creates opportunities for people who are already in the workforce.
  2. Bootcamps to train new grads. Unfortunately, bootcamps have a mixed reputation due to issues with quality. Because they cost money to attend, anyone can opt in and the business model is driven by volume. There’s no guarantee grads will be able to perform in a tech role. Paying to learn is also a significant limiting factor on diversity.

  3. Apprenticeships to give young people tech experience. There’s a glass ceiling on this model because it’s dependent on government funding via the apprenticeship levy. It’s also not guaranteed that these pathways lead to full-time employment.

If we’re going to right the tech talent pyramid, we need new pathways into tech that empower entry-level talent to get in. Creating more roles for grads is the best place to start. There are 800,000 new grads every year in the UK. But only 3.9% of them have computer science degrees, and very few have industry experience. 

If companies continue using education and experience as gateways to landing a job in tech, we’ll never escape the talent and diversity crisis. What is your team doing to create new pathways for this talent?

Press enter or esc to cancel