In an ideal world, hiring managers present a wish list to human resources of 10 characteristics or skills they want in a candidate and the perfect match appears.
In the real word, hiring managers are lucky to find candidates with half of their ideal requirements. They're lucky to find candidates at all.
The competitive talent market requires companies to rethink which new hire skills to target.
Candidates are unlikely to fit the exact mold of what a company might want. Hiring managers have to consider traits they are willing to give up to complete a team, said Ester Frey, VP of recruiting at WeWork, speaking last month at Interop IT conference in Las Vegas.
By upskilling, companies are working to develop candidates from within. One example: WeWork's 2017 acquisition of coding boot camp provider Flatiron School.
The company is using the school's resources to build out the capabilities of its internal workforce, putting WeWork employees through a 15-month program, according to Frey. Once complete, employees emerge as entry-level engineers.
Lifelong learning is becoming a big business and leading companies are coming together to develop the future workforce. Microsoft and General Assembly plan to upskill 15,000 workers in artificial intelligence in the next three years.
Salesforce, too, has ambitious training plans and wants to upskill half a million U.S. workers, and generate more jobs along the way.
The problem is vendor investment and training pipelines only go so far to meet future talent demands. If the pace of technology change keeps up (and it is unlikely to slow), newly minted workers could see their skills become obsolete.
The bad news is the shelf life of skills is short, said Jayne Groll, CEO of the DevOps Institute, speaking at Interop last month. The great news is industry "absolutely supports your growth."
The key is for employees to continue to hone their specialty while grooming traits like soft skills too, which are especially important in a collaborative environment, said Groll.
Successful upskilling requires close attention to existing and emerging workforce. It might seem an obvious sentiment, but efforts which result in entry-level programming jobs might not be the right fit for some workers.
When students complete a program, they aren't entering the workforce because they're already in it, said Elke Leeds, dean and academic VP, college of information technology at Western Governors University, speaking at Interop.
WGU is a private and nonprofit online university, which runs degree programs catered toward adult learners. Students seek degrees to serve as a differentiator in the job market.
Industry has a skills gap of certain opportunities, not a population gap, according to Leeds. There is a certain amount of elitism around higher education degree holders.
Boot camps and online coding programs can propel students into industry, but career mobility only extends so far without a four-year degree, a requirement savvy employers may rethink.
Certifications will get you an entry level position, Leeds said. Degrees will progress you into leadership positions.