Where have all the Developers gone?

code-647012_640.jpgHow long did it take to hire your most recent software developer? As you sat through interviews, did you wonder where all the developers have gone? The technological advances achieved in the past few decades have brought about a revolution in the world of business, affecting nearly all aspects of working life. When you look at technology, it drives so much of what business does, from productivity to communication to improving speed to making better business decisions. With these changes in the business world, the demand for specific technical skills and highly relevant experience continues to escalate.

Currently there seems to be a specific demand for Java, .Net and Mobile developers. Our consultants are finding it challenging to track down available individuals with the necessary skills in these areas. There is an noticeable increase in the number of clients anxious to find the right staff to support the growing reliance on technology in business in general. However, it seems the industry is struggling with a supply and demand issue, in that the demand has outstripped the supply.

The use of business software, in any sector, has become an integral part of an organisation's ability to perform tasks with a greater degree of efficiency, accuracy, and ease. Innovation and commoditisation of technology and the consumerisation of devices ensure that the needs for skills in this area will only continue to grow.

Add to this the fact that South Africa is setting the pace for mobile development and solutions, and is very much the breeding ground of the developing world's mobile development. Africa is very software and app focussed when it comes to the tech space and because we have people that think local and understand local problems, it's no surprise that the demand for software developer skills is increasing at a rapid pace.

Manager of the JCSE's Applied Research Unit, Adrian Schofield explains that the ICT sector currently grapples with a number of wide-ranging issues; from the quality of education and the employability of graduates, the investment in training and development, to the job roles and retention practices of employers. All of which take place against the background of an uncertain economic and political environment.

Education
One of the main challenges facing the Information Technology industry is education and experts warns that we should not place too much weight on Matric results as a guide to our educational status quo. The 2014 passed rate was slightly lower than the previous year however; the real concerns are with the number of students that qualify in, what are seen as feeder subjects for careers in IT; namely Maths and Science. There are far less people registering and passing these subjects, which automatically means the amount of students who are eligible to register for a BSc degree are drastically diminished.

Although the challenges don't stop there, you also have to look at the fact that we only have around 25 Tertiary Institutions across the country offering further education. Although many of them work hand in hand with the private industry to ensure graduates are receiving the right training and are employable at the end of their studies, there are still inconsistencies.

One example of a successful partnership is the CapaCITi education project started by the Cape IT Initiative in conjunction with UCT, CPUT and UWC which is aimed at skilling, up-skilling and re-skilling talent to create jobs and get unemployed graduates to become active economic participants in South Africa.

Private Projects
In the last five years we've also seen the establishment of several independent projects to try to bridge the skills gap in the future. Former FNB CEO Michael Jordaan along with tech journalist Elizabeth Gould, serial entrepreneur and engineer Dave Weber and Cara Turner, established a new training program specifically aimed at developers.
CodeX is a brand new full-time apprenticeship programme that provides on the job training for the talented young brains to help build Africa's digital future.

Another example is the mLab Southern Africa (SA) project that is a mobile solutions laboratory and start up accelerator that provides mobile developers with the support they need to develop innovative mobile applications and services.

Although these projects are a step in the right directions and more partnerships like this are needed, the reality is that for the foreseeable feature the scarcity of developer skills will continue.

Talent Management strategies?
This begs the question, knowing the shortage of skills, what are you as a hiring manager going to do about filling your talent gaps? What strategies are you going to employ to ensure you are able to have a chance to find and hire the right skills?
For many developers the criteria when looking for a new job has changed. They are starting to look much more towards company culture, the team they will work with, the side projects they will be allowed to develop rather than just salary and job description.

It's important to know that it will take time to find the developers you need, that you might have to consider hiring people when they are available and not when you need them. You will need to re-look at your talent retention strategies and what your company can offer more than just the standard.

If you are struggling to find the answers on how you will recruit the right people to your organization, then we can help you. Communicate Recruitment is an IT recruitment company with consultants that specialize in finding skilled developers, architects, consultants in CRM and ERP through to BI and BA. Contact us today.