To sum up the last few years of hiring in tech, you’d need only one word: whiplash. In 2020, the entire world screeched to a standstill, only to be replaced by a tech hiring boom — driven by digital transformation — that continued at breakneck speed until 2022.
Late 2022 came with a shift, with tech layoffs increasing more than tenfold from 2021. These increased in 2023, even as the economy as a whole grew, with 4.7 million jobs being added to the U.S. economy from 2022–2023. While layoffs impacted the tech field, they weren’t universal. Specialized roles like software engineers were less impacted by layoffs, and specialized industries like fintech remained understaffed. The upshot: despite layoffs, tech skill specialization is in constant demand.
In 2024, all signs point to a return to ramped-up demand for tech workers. Layoffs have fallen 86% from their Q1 2023 peak. Hiring is increasing again — particularly for AI-focused roles. GenAI is transforming the economy, creating new skillsets — and jobs focused on those specialized skillsets. Tech companies, sensitive to the boom-and-bust hiring cycle from the last three years, are moving cautiously. Hiring wishlists are high, yet businesses are still facing challenges.
To move beyond the whiplash and get ahead in the AI era, tech leaders will need to break the traditional tech talent mold. The right talent is out there — you just need to know how and where to find it.
The AI skill gap
General Assembly surveyed 500 data and software engineering leaders in the U.S. to discover challenges faced in tech hiring and staffing. We compiled our findings in our latest report: A New Frontier: Insights for Tech Leaders Navigating an AI-Driven Economy.
Synthesizing these findings, it became clear that tech leaders expect hiring to increase in 2024, yet they’re unable to effectively hire for these skilled roles.
85% of leaders agreed that open positions at their companies are too hard to fill due to roles being too specialized. As the AI boom increases, the skill gap between what employers need and what talent offers will continue to increase.
This skill gap results in hiring processes taking far too long, with 72% of respondents noting that hiring takes over a month, and an overwhelming 96% agreeing that a role has become obsolete by the time they start speaking to candidates.
Tech companies need talent — and quickly. Yet the unrelenting pace of AI evolution has created a vicious cycle where fewer prospects have the skills they need. This in turn slows the hiring process to the point that new tech emerges before a role can even be filled, further exacerbating the skill gap.
The solution: get off the hiring treadmill
These boom-and-bust tech hiring cycles can seem like racing on a treadmill — hiring managers and job prospects alike are racing faster and faster, yet getting nowhere. Instead of doubling down on the same practices that lead to the same results, business leaders should look to nontraditional hiring and upskilling methods to meet their 2024 talent needs.
Expand your talent pool by 100%
If you could expand your talent pool to twice its size, would you do it?
Even better, it barely requires any work on your part. All you need to do is remove a degree requirement from your job posting.
Simply removing a college degree as a job requirement suddenly expands your talent pool by 70 million U.S. adults.
As the demand for talent increases with AI’s rise, tech leaders need to remember they’re hiring for skills, not degrees. Candidates should be considered holistically, and degrees shouldn’t function as barriers to employment.
Focus on building skills
59% of surveyed tech leaders believe their organization lacks the tech talent to meet their business needs. To complement the hiring process, companies should invest in upskilling and reskilling their existing talent. AI skills and other tech are rapidly multiplying, evolving, and becoming obsolete. Simply going through a traditional hiring process risks companies tying up their time and capital chasing skills that are already in short supply and may quickly become out-of-date.
By upskilling and reskilling employees through focused training programs offered by partners like General Assembly, you keep your top talent at the forefront of the AI revolution — investing in your employees and your business simultaneously.
Navigate the Wild West of talent in the AI era
Removing degree requirements from job postings and upskilling existing employees are great starts to closing tech skill gaps, but these are far from the only answers.
To gain deeper insights into navigating an AI-driven economy, download our new report.
Key hiring challenges faced by 500 tech leaders
Predicted hiring trends for 2024
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