Businesses in Bulgaria see IT skills shortage as biggest business threat
A lack of candidates with coveted AI, mobile development and AR/VR skills is further compounding recruitment issues as digital demands continue to grow, causing businesses to seek alternative talent pools
The latest survey by Equinix, Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX), the world’s digital infrastructure company™, revealed IT leaders in Bulgaria, along with their global counterparts, have serious concerns about staff retention and recruitment.
According to the Equinix 2022 Global Tech Trends Survey, 60% of IT decision-makers in Bulgaria view a shortage of personnel with IT skills as one of the main threats to their business. This echoes global results where 62% of all respondents have indicated the same concern. Companies—including Equinix—are looking to widen the talent pool, bringing in more diverse candidates through alternative recruitment drives. The 2,900 survey respondents globally acknowledged the speed at which the tech industry is transforming has left companies struggling to find people with the right skill sets to meet present and future challenges.
The most common concerns for companies in Bulgaria were retention of current talent (60%) and candidates with the wrong skill sets applying for jobs (54%). And the most in-demand tech employees are AI/machine learning (28%), mobile development (27%) and AR/VR experts (19%). Other skills shortages include security software developer (18%), security architect (17%), hardware engineering (16%) and cloud computing (14%).
Globally, the common concerns remain the same – candidates with the wrong skill sets applying for jobs and retention of current talent, both identified by 44% of respondents. However, the most in-demand employee positions differ from those identified in the local market. They include IT technicians (27%), cloud computing specialists (26%) and those with an AI/machine learning aptitude (26%). IT leaders anticipate the gaps in tech skills will remain similar in the future, with AI/machine learning becoming even more prominent.
Keri Gilder, CEO of Colt Technology Services, explained: “Finding the right skills is a real problem in the tech industry, especially on the software side. The reality is that with the softwarization of services, all industries are seeking the same skills. One of the challenges here is a lack of awareness among young talent of the opportunities available within the tech sector. Connectivity providers don’t appear in many use cases—even those at university level—despite all the work being done in areas such as subsea, satellite and fibre. We have to think collaboratively around talent, and work as an industry to bring in more of the diverse skills base waiting for an opportunity.”
In response to skills shortages, many businesses are working hard to reskill people from other areas. Trends in Bulgaria are similar to those around the world, The highest percentage of tech leaders in the country (46%) said they reskill workers from similar industries. while 22% are trying to bolster their workforce with recruits from unrelated sectors. Globally, the percentages are 62% and 34%, respectively. With recent layoffs and furlough schemes prompting workers to start looking for opportunities to level up their skills or careers, tech companies that offer training and development opportunities could be better positioned to attract talent.
In Bulgaria most reskilled workers are those returning from work after a period of absence, for example raising children – 46%. They are followed by employees with a background in administration and business support (45%) and finance and insurance (38%). These reskilled workers tend to help businesses bridge the tech skills gaps by working in IT technician (46%), data analysis (31%) and mobile development roles (25%).
Globally the most common sources of reskilled workers are administration and business support (36%), finance and insurance (33%), and those returning to work after a period of absence (30%).
Equinix has a collection of career transition programs under its Career Pathways portfolio. These programs are designed to expand and diversify talent pools by drawing from careers with transferable skills, such as military veterans transitioning to civilian life, and retired Olympians and Paralympians, through a partnership with Athlete Career Transition (ACT). The career transition reskilling program constitutes 40% of field operations hiring globally, sourcing workers from adjacent industries, such as airline, oil and gas, and hospitality, and reskilling them to fill data center roles. Additional programs include the soon-to-launch Invictus, which will focus on hiring SkillBridge veterans disabled due to military service, New To Career, attracting new graduates, and refugee-targeted talent schemes. Collectively, these initiatives are targeted to bring the company more than 750 hires in 2022.
Meanwhile, businesses are also seeking to recruit through higher education and apprenticeship programs. IT leaders in Bulgaria said their companies’ main ways of partnering with higher education institutions include offering student internships (34%), partner on degree apprenticeship programs (31%), taking part in college/university career fairs (25%) running collaborative training programs with higher education institutions (22%).
Student internships are also the most popular method of cooperation with higher education institutions according to global respondents – 42%. This is followed by running a collaborative training program (41%), taking part in college/university career fairs (37%) and partnering on degree apprenticeship programs (34%). An example of such collaboration is the CLAP-TECH Pathway—funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust—which sees multiple tech companies, including Equinix, collaborate with Hong Kong Baptist University and secondary schools in Hong Kong to equip students with the right skills for a career in tech. Equinix has also pledged $160,000 towards sustainability-focused scholarships for programs administered by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Management University (SMU), to expand learning beyond traditional academic disciplines.
Equinix is further exploring partnerships with community colleges and vocational training institutions. Last year saw the advent of the Equinix Digital Infrastructure Scholarship program, launched in partnership with Northern Virginia Community College and NOVA Foundation, equipping Engineering Technology candidates with the framework needed to enter the data center industry.
According to Brandi Galvin Morandi, Chief Legal and HR Officer at Equinix, “The survey reveals unmatched skill sets are hampering talent acquisition across tech-focused teams globally. There is an overall lack of understanding about the specific skills needed for certain roles, and potential candidates need better guidance around training, preparation, and job opportunities.
“This challenge hands our industry the opportunity to recruit and develop talent in different ways, and this is something we’ve been working to get ahead of in the past few years. We believe companies should foster a progressive talent development roadmap for tech roles that caters for both inexperienced and trained candidates. Another opportunity is mentorship programs—helping potential candidates gain access to an established network for career guidance, while connecting companies with suitable candidates for a robust talent pool. We also encourage higher education and vocational training institutions to work with tech teams within companies to ensure their curriculum imparts the right skills to students and prepares them for their desired careers,” Galvin Morandi added.
To further progress in this area, Equinix recently launched the Equinix Foundation, partnering with organizations to advance digital inclusion, from providing access to technology and connectivity, to developing the skills required for technology careers. The Foundation aims to support nonprofits working to prepare individuals of all ages and backgrounds to succeed in today’s digital world.
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