How Startups Can Bridge the Growing Digital Skills Gap


Companies everywhere are still struggling to find the technical talent they need to fuel their growth ambitions. The global digital skills gap is widening, which is why companies - especially startups - have to start thinking outside the box.

According to the European Commission, 90% of jobs in Europe require a basic level of digital knowledge, yet only 58% of workers possess this baseline skill. Furthermore, rapid growth in the cloud computing space - 23% growth in 2021 alone - will continue driving increased demand for people who understand how to build next-gen applications. 

Adding complexity here is the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the transition to remote work, making it harder for companies to source the technical abilities they need. Software developers, solutions architects, cybersecurity professionals, and others have more power than ever to choose where they work and when. So, employers are fighting over a limited pool of resources and having to step up their employment offerings to remain competitive. 

Fortunately, there are steps businesses can take to attract and retain technical talent more effectively. Startups, especially, have to keep these in mind if they hope to bring in A-level professionals over the next several years. 

Update Criteria For Employability

One of the best strategies startups and founding teams can take is to reconsider their criteria for technical hires. Too many organizations today emphasize qualifications over skill, ruling out many who could potentially add value to the business. 

For instance, old-school thinking leads many hiring managers to filter for individuals with a computer science undergraduate or advanced degrees, excluding people who have taken less traditional paths to the world of technology. Coding boot camps and online courses have proven to adequately prepare people for technical roles, at least for junior or entry-level positions. 

In addition, job seekers have more resources at their disposal to self-teach and build up a sufficient foundation of knowledge. Employers today have to be willing to look past formal credentials and keep an open mind to those who may have the thinking capacity and affinity for technical work without the proper educational background. 

On a related note, startups should communicate exactly what they are looking for to those in charge of developing curricula or supporting the career development of others. Problems arise when there is a disconnect between what companies need and what educators or career coaches are guiding people to do. So, businesses should expand their employability criteria and then communicate that clearly to their candidate sources so that everyone is on the same page. 

Offer Ongoing Professional Development

Another strategy teams can use to mitigate the digital skills gap is to improve retention amongst existing employees. It’s easier to keep people who are already on staff than to go out and find replacements.

When it comes to technical talent, employers have to create opportunities for their employees to upskill themselves. People want to be challenged. They want to grow their abilities and take on more responsibility. If those opportunities don’t exist in-house, employees will leave knowing they will likely be able to find another job quickly. 

In a fast-growing business like a startup aiming for Series A or Series B funding, how could you help your team members grow into high-responsibility roles as the business starts to scale exponentially? 

It’s critical for startups and larger corporations to provide on-the-job training, professional development, and continuing education so that people feel like they are being invested in and groomed for bigger and better opportunities. A robust professional development program combined with competitive salaries, flexible hours, and strong benefits is a powerful way to keep current staff happy.

Explore Alternative Hiring Methods

Beyond the two strategies above, another one that startups should consider involves hiring non-full-time employees, especially for short-term work needs. The wide-scale transition to remote work has opened the door for many professionals to work on a contract or part-time basis. Businesses can now reliably go offshore to find technical talent for quick sprints and ramp their technology teams up and down as needed. 

So, businesses that would otherwise be competing for one full-time resource can now share the same individual. In other words, technical professionals can now sell their unused capacity to multiple employers, allowing more businesses to leverage cost-effective technical expertise. 

The challenge here is that hiring part-time workers can take the same amount of time and energy required to recruit full-time professionals. As a result, recruiting mistakes hurt a little more. That’s why it can make sense to work with a recruiting firm, like, that specializes in helping startups find full-time and part-time talent all over the world. 

We take on the burden of sifting through thousands of potential candidates on your behalf so that you can focus on growing the business. Furthermore, we can help you refine your messaging to attract the ideal employees and compete effectively during a tremendously competitive time. 

To learn more about how operates, schedule a 30-min call with our team today.

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