There will be an estimated 1.4 million IT and engineering positions opening up before 2020, with little chance that there will be qualified candidates to fill them. In 2017, around 45 percent of businesses struggled to fill technical roles. Over 60 percent of businesses report that the skills gap severely or moderately impacts their organization. Unemployment is low, and the need for experienced technical executives and employees is growing. The technical skills gap will continue to affect competitiveness and productivity for the next several years.

The technical skills gap is felt most on the cutting-edge of technological innovation, with particular shortages in data science, cybersecurity, and machine and deep learning. The technical skills gap is a reality, and there are no easy solutions. Outside of a small number of Silicon Valley giants, technology-focused businesses will struggle to hire over the next few years, especially companies seeking executive and middle management hires with technical expertise. However, businesses can increase their likelihood of filling technical roles relative to the competition.

Be Realistic about Finding the Perfect Candidate

Tech industry job specifications and the extensive experience and expertise they ask for have become something of a joke in recent years, but there is a reason tech companies are so expansive. Long requirement lists act as a filter, discouraging people who aren’t qualified from wasting recruiters’ and HR professionals’ time. But, in the process, they discourage people who are capable and qualified from applying. Before you ask for expertise in thirteen programming languages, a data analysis Ph.D., and a decade of experience building global infrastructure platforms, consider whether they are essential.

Provide a Compelling Relocation Package

It’s a candidate’s market, and top talent has little trouble finding a well-paid position, especially in tech hubs like New York and Silicon Valley. If you need a candidate to move across the country, you’re going to have to offer them a compelling reason to do so. This goes double for executive hires, who expect to be compensated for the disruption of relocating their life and their family.

Use Technical Training to Fill the Technical Skills Gaps

The technical skills gap is the result of constrained supply: there aren’t enough talented candidates. Hiring is one solution, but proactive companies work to create a supply of qualified candidates by providing a focused learning and development path to their employees. The availability of technical training and career development can help businesses to develop skills internally and attract external candidates who value the opportunity to enhance their capabilities.

Specialist Recruiters Have Bigger Networks Than Your Business

The technical skills gap makes it challenging for business leaders and internal recruiters to source candidates and recommendations from their networks. Executives should build personal networks via industry events, social gatherings, and social media — it’s often a big help when looking to recruit, especially for smaller businesses. But specialist recruiters have larger and more diverse networks than any executive. They may also have direct access to potential candidates who are unlikely to be reached through more conventional channels.

The technical skills gap makes hiring for technical leadership roles more difficult, forcing businesses to compete with each other to discover and hire the best candidates. Businesses with effective recruitment strategies that can successfully attract top talent will be at a significant competitive advantage.