Code Wars: The All-Industry Competition for Software Talent

Code Wars: The All-Industry Competition for Software Talent

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Code Wars: The All-Industry Competition for Software Talent

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    Managing Supply

    Ensuring an adequate supply of the right kind of software talent will be a challenge for most companies in both the near term and the longer term. Managing demand imbalances will, of course, be one issue. But anticipating future needs in a fast-changing field is also difficult and is one reason why we undertook this research, which we plan to update periodically.

    Part of the supply problem is that universities are struggling to update their curricula quickly enough to keep up with the rapid pace of change. Graduates entering the workforce are not prepared to fill gaps in skills and talent. Training and skills development, by definition, take place in advance of employment; some lead time is inherently essential. Geographic concentrations of resources creates additional difficulties for employers in less populous areas. And, of course, the most talented human resources are attracted to high-tech companies and startups. Silicon Valley is rife with stories of the need for top talent. Nine out of ten MIT graduates with computer science degrees in 2012 went to work for high-tech companies or start-ups.

    Companies will want to make sure that they are getting the most out of the talent they have on board and that they are able to recruit. In the near term especially, their best bet may be making the most of the talent they already have.

    Training and retraining—with a focus on languages, frameworks, platforms, and applications where supply is short—will rise in importance. Cross-training employees who may already know the fundamentals of another language can be a short-term way to fill gaps in key capabilities. Keeping software skills honed is likely to be a continuing need over the long term, although the nature and focus of the training programs should evolve over time to meet changing programming needs.

    Providing attractive career paths for software talent will be another priority. Companies that don’t address this need will find themselves increasingly short of talent, especially for more senior and management-level positions. Intensifying training and telescoping career-trajectory paths (not unlike the military’s approach to battlefield promotions) will help minimize gaps in more senior positions (albeit at the sacrifice of real-world experience). There will also be a rising premium on productivity. Smart companies will develop processes that take full advantage of the benefits that software can bring them. Companies with poor processes will be doubly punished—first by failing to make the most of existing resources and then by losing much needed skills when frustrated talent decides to move on.