Nearly all tech leaders report challenges finding skilled talent

About 95% of technology leaders are facing challenges with hiring top talent, which could put critical business priorities and strategies at risk, according to a May 8 report by Robert Half, a talent solutions and business consulting firm.

Nearly two-thirds of tech leaders also said they have a skills gap in their department, and 62% said the skills gap has a greater impact now compared to a year ago.

“It has never been more critical to have a talent strategy in place that aligns with your long-term vision and goals,” Ryan Sutton, executive director for technology talent solutions at Robert Half, said in a statement. “Without a defined hiring and retention plan to help fill technology skills gaps, it will be challenging to achieve objectives and complete mission-critical projects.”

In a survey of 700 U.S. tech leaders at the director level or above, 55% said they anticipate staffing constraints will affect their priority projects in 2024. Beyond that, 51% said significant hiring challenges will result from a lack of applicants with the skills to support essential initiatives. 

Tech leaders said their top priorities for 2024 include security of IT systems and information, AI and machine learning, automation initiatives, cloud projects, tech modernization and software engineering and development. 

As more companies aim to implement AI tools in the workplace, tech leaders said the need to solve skills gaps has become more urgent. In 2024, 90% of tech leaders surveyed said they plan to implement initiatives involving AI, and 48% said the biggest barrier to success is a lack of staff with AI skills.

In response, to boost talent acquisition and retention, the report recommended a scalable talent model with a mix of permanent, contract and consulting professionals to bridge skills gaps quickly, as well as upskilling programs that encourage innovative thinking and continuous learning.

The national unemployment rate for tech jobs dropped to 2.8% in April after a spike earlier in 2024, according to a CompTIA report. Nearly half of active tech job openings in April didn’t specifically require candidates to have a four-year degree; that number was even higher for IT support and network support specialists as more employers focus on skills-based hiring.

Even so, most business leaders have expressed concerns about training employees quickly enough to keep up with AI and tech developments in the next three years, according to a World Employment Confederation report. About 80% said it’s never been so difficult to plan for future talent requirements, and 92% said they’ll need a more flexible workforce in the next two years.

Tech leaders have reported the largest technical skills gaps in cybersecurity, cloud and software development, according to a Pluralsight report. Upskilling current workers can help fill these gaps, as well as save time and money, the report found.