The Developer Shortage Revisited: Where from Here?
The developer shortage was on top of the agenda in 2021. Digital transformation was picking up speed, there was labor shortage everywhere due to pandemic restrictions, and something needed to be done to keep the economy rolling. Almost a year has passed, and it is time to take another look at the labor market for developers.
Stating the problem in numbers
While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of developers employed to grow by 22 percent from 2020, it forecasts an average of 189,200 job openings every year during the same period. Therefore, the developer shortage is here to stay, and decision-makers had best plan ahead.
The increased demand for developer skills calls for an accompanying increase in the supply of developers, which is impossible to accomplish in the short run. The resulting gap between supply and demand translates into more workload for developers currently in the workforce. 83 percent of these people report feeling some level of burnout, according to a study. This burnout is the main reason for the developers’ share in the Great Resignation. Senior developers are taking time off to rethink their priorities and change their lives to gain more control over how they work. The surge in the number of startups founded and the capital flowing to them attest to that. Developers who decided to stay in their jobs insist on remote or hybrid work arrangements to improve conditions at a stressful time.
Recruiting new developers and retaining those you already have on your team have become more critical than ever in this age of developer shortage. A study conducted by Reveal indicates that employers agree. 53 percent of the employers responding to the survey see recruiting developers with the right skills as their biggest challenge, while 46 percent of the respondents cite retaining the current talent at hand as a business challenge.
Employers make their move
Recruiters are taking steps to mitigate the effects of the developer shortage. Some of these steps involve expanding the talent pool they are recruiting from. According to the findings of the 2022 Tech Hiring Survey conducted by CodinGame and CoderPad, employers are dropping CVs as the decisive criteria during recruitment. This move gives self-taught people a better chance to get hired for positions previously reserved for employees with college degrees. The recent hiring practices of recruiters reflect this change: There has been a 17 percent increase (from 22 percent to 39 percent) in the number of employers hiring people without college degrees. A more merit-based future seems to be awaiting us instead of one where academic background matters a lot.
A second measure to deal with developer shortage involves giving employees training to help them undertake different responsibilities. The same CodinGame and CoderPad report mentioned above cites two-thirds of recruiters stating that they invest in reskilling efforts, while around 50 percent push for upskilling initiatives. However, upskilling and reskilling are complex and expensive undertakiings. Identifying the skill sets of the employees, deciding which skills they need to have, and finding ways to bridge the gap between the two can be quite challenging. For a training program to achieve its goals, it must be tailored to the specific needs of an employee, which is no easy task. Failure in giving employees the kind of training they need causes them to question the wisdom of the program, as indicated by 44 percent of employees stating that the training they received at the office had no impact on their work.
Another challenge stems from the fact that technical skills tend to age rather quickly. The time and effort invested in teaching employees a certain programming language can be all for nothing when that programming language becomes obsolete within a few years.
The promise of low-code/no-code
The Reveal survey cited before draws attention to another measure employers are taking to tackle the developer shortage: 54 percent of the respondents state that they would invest in low-code/no-code (LCNC) tools. These tools can help employers at two levels: First, they can bring structure to the ongoing upskilling and reskilling initiatives that lack a clear direction. Once they get proficient in using LCNC platforms, employees themselves can tailor these tools for their own needs, eliminating the risk that training may not fit the actual requirements of the work. Such domain experts leveraging the LCNC technology to improve productivity have come to be defined as “citizen developers” in the corporate world. These people are well-positioned to take some burden off the shoulders of developers and IT departments as they can easily self-serve with the LCNC tools at their disposal.
The second way LCNC platforms can help employers in these tough times is by enabling developers to do more in less time. LCNC tools not only help developers with mundane, repetitive tasks, but they also fast-track the development process by reducing the time needed to produce proofs of concept or MVPs. The recent Zapier no-code report we reviewed last week demonstrates that 35 percent of no-code users are actually professional developers and corroborates the notion that these tools can solve real problems for developers. With developers no longer having to spend that much time on boring parts of the work, we can expect them to experience less burnout, which should help with their retention rates.
We launched Code2 almost a year ago with the manifest aim to cure the developer dearth problem. The feedback we receive from our community is a sign of the great strides we have made in that regard, with people coming from non-technical backgrounds launching apps with little help. Yes, the developer shortage will be there for the foreseeable future. But thanks to no-code platforms like Code2, people and businesses will be better equipped than ever to deal with it.