The talent gap in the IT industry. We miss an alarming number of 15,467 professionals per year

There is an obvious gap between demand and offer in the recruitment playground of the IT industry. Generally known as the “industry with 0% unemployment ratio”, the IT industry employs some 8.4 million people in the EU28 states only, and there is room for 500,000 more by 2020 (EUROSTAT).

According to the European Commission, the demand for ICT workers is growing at 4% each year, jeopardising the EU’s potential for growth and digital competitiveness by outpacing supply.

In Romania, there are 5 top polytechnic universities, 59 state universities and 174 private universities training students in the main technical specializations. However, they only provide around 9,500 graduates per year, nearly one third of them in Bucharest.

With employers aiming at 2-digit growth in their number of employees per year, the talent gap is over 15,000 professionals per year and could reach an alarming proportion of up to 30% of the needed IT workforce in the following 3 years.

As the technology market is very dynamic and the talent gap is high, you should know 5 ingredients to attract the talent.

(The insights in this article are based on interviews with 47 technology leaders in Romania. You may see the full report here – Scaling UP)

1. Training

The need for competitive employees is driving companies into developing their own programs to grow better professionals. Training efforts have always been at the center of development and it takes time, effort and resources to do this.

Graduate/junior training is a big part in most companies, with internal schools or “academies” where graduates learn both the technical skills they will need on the job and the soft skills they will need in order to fit with the company culture and to be efficient in their assigned teams. Training efforts have become more formal, with strategies, planning and budgets.

“We have formalized our training efforts with strong training budgets, online courses, trainings facilitated by external partners” (Bogdan Lucaci, Gameloft)

There is a focus on “hot skills” training and some companies have programs to train high performing employees.

2. Recruitment strategies & employer branding

Companies who were managing their recruitment process in-house are now looking at other options and there has been a shift from headhunting and case-by-case recruitment to a more complex process, also involving agencies.

An important focus is on time to fill a position, with mentions of recruitment cycle agility to fit the market, initiatives to streamline the process and drop below the 3 months mark. There have been investments in digitizing recruitment and implementing new software that provides better management of the talent pool.

An interesting recruitment strategy is to create “hot pools” of people who are not hired, but given tests, books, resources to learn so that they are fit to be hired 3 to 6 months later.

Referrals are also mentioned as a successful recruitment strategy, with the downside of being limited to a small number of candidates.

Employer branding is seen as a long-term strategy to attract talent, and it is important to focus on it both internally and externally. It can be frustrating that results only show up after a while, but the company brand may prove useful.

“We  now have a mixed sourcing strategy, we also work with agencies” (Simona Pavelescu, Systematic)

“We have a very good recruitment process which produces excellent results and very good feedback. We also use alternative channels/partnerships for external recruitment” (Andreea Stănescu, London Stock Exchange Group)

3. Compensation and benefits

On a market with so much pressure on salaries, compensation and benefits packages are a differentiator. 

CURRENT benefits
% respondentsATTRACTIVE  Benefits% respondents
Meal tickets66%13th salary67%
Medical subscription66%Flex time52%
Flex time56%Work from home (working from home on a need basis)51%
Work from home (working from home on a need basis)55%Additional vacation days (more than 23 days)50%
Medical insurance37%Remote work (working offsite whenever you want)50%
Office perks (ping-pong, juice, relaxation spaces, etc)36%Meal tickets39%
Additional vacation days (more than 23 days)31%Medical subscription36%
Gym subscription30%Medical insurance32%
Remote work (working offsite whenever you want)26%Dental coverage32%
Medical subscription for family19%Gym subscription31%
13th salary18%Office perks (ping-pong, juice, relaxation spaces, etc)27%
Flexible benefits15%Medical subscription for family26%
Dental coverage11%Flexible benefits25%
Stock options9%Stock options22%

4. Work from home

Work from home has been a major shift in recent years and, while the legislation is not aligned to the needs of companies, more employers are looking into this arrangement as a way to increase productivity.

From our experience, what we see is that this is the most desired benefit for candidates. Almost 80% of our candidates are asking about the possibility of working from home.

5. Intrapreneurship

Intrapreneurship has been the buzzword in recent years with companies providing employees the opportunity to act as entrepreneurs and even develop their own ideas within the company. 

“Intrapreneurship is a key concept for us. SOCIETE GENERALE, for example, deployed the “Internal Startup Call” initiative, where 50 ideas were chosen out of 200 submissions globally, mentoring programs were offered to the intrapreneurs to help them put a team together and fine-tune the ideas, and 10 startups formed by employees were funded through the programme. SGEBS had 2 startups selected among the winners and we are very proud about it. Both of them are using AI as part of the solution.” (Jean Pierre Broute, SGEBS)