As the world of technology continues to innovate and evolve, businesses are struggling to find the requisite software talent who have the technical skills and expertise required to facilitate these advancements in the field.
Now that more companies are immersing themselves in blockchain, AI, web development, application development, and much more, software developers have become one of the most in-demand professions in the US and beyond. This rise in demand could mean a promising, more innovative future, but there is one big problem: we are facing a serious shortage of skilled developers at this moment.
Key Statistics at a Glance
Following the Great Resignation, the software industry is still facing a talent shortage. More and more businesses need to ramp up their development teams. This is not solely limited to software companies. Today, the developer shortage extends to organizations of all different types and sizes because practically every company needs technical talent to some extent.
To get a better sense of the high demand for and low supply of software engineers, just take a look at the numbers and data:
- The worldwide shortage of full-time software developers is expected to increase from 1.4 million in 2021 to 4.0 million in 2025. (IDC)
- Between 2021 and 2031, the field is projected to grow by 25%, much faster than average. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- As of November 2021, 73% of digital workers said they expected to change positions within the following two to three years. (Boston Consulting Group)
- Sixty-one percent of HR professionals struggle with recruiting qualified developer talent. (CodinGame)
If these statistics seem alarming to you, you’re not alone — this data shows that the shortage of software talent is a very real and escalating problem.
Factors Affecting the Shortage of Software Developers
Recruiters and hiring managers are in need of highly skilled software developers. That’s because as we innovate and produce at a rapid speed, we need professionals with the qualifications, knowledge, and skills to facilitate these efforts — and these qualities are not easy to come by.
Since 2019 — in fact, well before — organizations have been on the lookout for developers with experience in specialized, relevant areas, particularly artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), a subset of AI. Though developers have already been utilizing the foundations of AI for a variety of purposes, a report by Gartner predicts that AI-based business will be worth USD$3.9 trillion by 2022.
This means that the industry will only continue to become more complex — but of course, this development cannot be done without highly skilled professionals to match.
On top of this, the rising popularity of blockchain technology is also driving the demand for software talent. BairesDev’s CEO Nacho De Marco stated that blockchain’s sudden popularity is one of the biggest factors that led to the talent shortage. Companies are struggling to find developers who have at least rudimentary knowledge of blockchain, since the fintech, cybersecurity, and healthcare sectors are beginning to recognize its perks and want to take fully realize the potential of this important technology in their fields.
Finally, cybersecurity experts are in high demand, especially now that the pandemic has caused individuals and organizations to rely on digital services more than ever before. Businesses are shelling out for top cybersecurity experts, due to the increasing shortage of professionals and the rising number of cybercrimes that are wreaking havoc on our businesses.
These are not the only specialties that are in high demand in the world of software development. The niches within the field are growing in number and popularity, as even the businesses that were once thought to be “low-tech” are getting into the software development game. Now, businesses in practically every field need tech specialists across different areas and sectors. This, too, is contributing to a global shortage of software development talent.
How the Shortage Affects Businesses
Handling AI, blockchain technology, cybersecurity, and other niches isn’t a walk in the park, so it will take a whole slew of advanced skills to get the job done.
According to the Association for Computing Machinery, these hard-to-fill software developer vacancies require more qualifications and experience from applicants and candidates. Developers need to pursue higher education and accumulate at least two years of experience to solidify these important skills, which is why these types of positions are 40% more difficult to fill compared to entry-level roles.
The struggle is real for organizations that are trying to find the balance between searching for field experts and making room for more entry-level professionals.
If these organizations aren’t able to find professionals with the necessary skillsets, the shortage can impact their product innovation and business performance. The Association for Computing Machinery’s article further points out that these unfilled positions could reduce a company’s productivity levels by as much as 65%! This number could even shoot up even more if a company has workers with skill gaps.
Without experts with the right knowledge and qualifications on their teams, businesses have no choice but to put their innovation projects on hold and make do with what they have. This, of course, is a worst-case scenario, one any organization wants and needs to avoid at all costs. Hence, there is a strong need for the best software development talent to ensure businesses can complete projects and meet their goals.
Potential Solutions for the Software Developer Talent Shortage
It takes two to tango, so both professionals and companies must work hand in hand to fill the gap for software developers.
To address the shortage of talent in software development, here are some of the best potential solutions:
- Invest in upskilling software engineers and talent
- Improve strategies for sourcing talent
While these are not the only means of addressing the tech talent shortage, they represent larger categories that will prove critical in hiring developers with top technical skills to help grow and realize success.
Invest in Upskilling Software Engineers and Talent
AI, blockchain, and cybersecurity are just a few of the technological innovations developers will need to learn these skills and gain the necessary credentials to bridge the gap. To meet the demand for these skills, professionals and even companies need to invest in upskilling developers.
Aspiring software developers can get started with online educational resources that cover the basics of computer science, such as data structures and computer architecture. There are many MOOCs and other services that offer courses and even certifications, often at a low price, to help aspiring and existing software professionals upskill.
Then, after learning the fundamentals of the field, they can fill their thirst for knowledge and help address the talent shortage at the same time by learning programming languages that are needed for the latest innovations, like Ruby, Python, and Java, to name just a couple of examples.
These resources and short courses rival even modern master’s degrees in software development and related fields. These types of programs have courses on the creation, architecture, and presentation of software programs and applications, among other niches.
This allows professionals to improve their programming skills and deepen their knowledge when it comes to complex databases and additional high-level technologies. It’s a win-win situation because they can get a good grasp of current and future technological advancements through these programs while upskilling to play their part in filling the skills shortage.
These educational opportunities are critical in providing the necessary knowledge and skills that professionals so desperately need to develop software programs. And there’s no doubt that educational accessibility has a huge part to play in catering to the software developer shortage. Thanks to our highly digital world, there are more opportunities to access education than ever before.
Improve Strategies for Sourcing Tech Talent
Finding skilled workers is particularly difficult now, so companies need to step up when it comes to revamping their strategies for hiring and outsourcing talent in the tech sector. Raising the salaries for these roles isn’t enough nowadays — most companies are offering generous pay for software talent — so businesses also need to provide the job benefits that software developers want.
CodinGame’s survey reveals that these professionals only consider the salary as the fourth most important factor when they are considering job offers. On the other hand, being offered interesting technical challenges at work, having flexible working hours, and achieving a strong work-life balance all top the list.
Companies can also increase their productivity and pursue more innovative projects by outsourcing talent. Software outsourcing companies can give businesses more access to experts who have a wide range of advanced and unique skills, such as UX design, artificial intelligence engineering, IoT development, and blockchain consulting, along with plenty of others. By outsourcing your projects to a team of experienced professionals, companies can rest assured that they will receive high-quality software customizations every single time and develop long-lasting professional relationships that will serve them well.
Software Engineer Shortage & The Future
So, what can we expect in terms of the future of the software developer shortage and the wider field itself? As 2023 fast approaches, we are facing a looming recession, and the need to bring top talent into our fold to help us persist in the face of challenges will become even more critical. Each business that relies on software development talent — which is the vast majority of businesses across sectors — must consider a range of strategies to attract and retain software engineers with experience, expertise, and qualifications to complete superior projects.
Outsourcing, too, will prove to be an important strategy to have in your fold as you grapple with new obstacles. Even when you’re facing a shortage of resources, you can extend your talent pipeline to outside your organization, allowing you to fill in the gaps and persist during a difficult economic time.
Of course, you should also invest time and effort into cultivating evergreen strategies for ensuring that you always have access to the best developers. A multifaceted approach to attracting and retaining the best software talent will be critical for the health of your organization and your team for now and well into the future.
The shortage of skilled shortage software developers is a huge problem in the tech industry, but it can be solved. To decrease this shortage, organizations need to invest in upskilling workers, while recruitment teams should improve their sourcing strategies to gain the best possible results.
Software Engineer Shortage FAQ
Is there a developer shortage?
By most estimates, we are facing a steep developer shortage. The need for professionals with top software engineering skills is outpacing the size of the global workforce available to meet it. There are more roles and job openings for tech workers in general than there are individuals who have the qualifications and/or desire to fill them.
What will be the future demand for software developers?
The BLS projects that the software engineering field will grow by 25% between 2021 and 2025. Meanwhile, the IDC has stated that it expects the worldwide shortage of full-time software developers to increase from 1.4 million in 2021 to 4.0 million in 2025. There are many different estimates as to how extensive the demand for software developers will be, but it is clear that the profession is growing rapidly, and we will increasingly rely on this technical talent well into the future.