We consider how AI can help organizations retain their existing employees and help source new tech professionals

The scarcity of tech talent is a huge issue for organizations everywhere, one that could create an annual revenue loss of $8.5 trillion. This shortage is an issue of both retention and sourcing — organizations are short of staff because they struggle to keep hold of their existing employees and find it difficult to fill any gaps from the external pool of tech professionals.

We’ve explained how improving developer experience can help address this, as can building an open organization. However, we’re conscious that the shortage of tech professionals is a massive problem that doesn’t have a single solution.

AI is being enthusiastically pitched as a cure to countless problems faced by organizations across the globe, such as revolutionizing the delivery of education and transforming access to healthcare. But could AI be the solution to the 8.5 trillion dollar problem of the shortage of tech professionals?

We’ve tackled that question by considering one way AI can help organizations retain their existing employees and one way it can help source new tech professionals.

AI can improve the chances of organizations retaining their existing staff, by enabling tech professionals to spend more time doing the work they want to

People accept there are mundane tasks that have to be done as part of their jobs, so long as the balance between them and rewarding work is correct. The problem is that many tech professionals feel the balance isn’t right, with 38% of developers saying they spend too much time on admin tasks.

If your tech professionals believe too much of their efforts are committed to dull work then you run the risk of losing them to other organizations. This is something that will be hugely damaging to your organization, as the scarcity of tech professionals means it’s difficult to replace the ones you lose. AI, specifically LLMs (Large Language Models), can help solve this problem by enabling your staff to spend more time doing the work they want to.

What is a practical example of how this can look in your organization? Our Head of Data Engineering and Analytics, Dan Klose, says this:

“If you’re a senior software developer, using these kinds of tools can definitely help you move faster, help you bootstrap your processes. Let’s say I spend a lot of time writing dbt models or deploying dbt for clients, I don’t want to have to repeat the same setup process every time — it’s time-consuming. Whereas, if I can use something like ChatGPT to generate that skeleton that I can flesh out that’s a huge saving for me.”

The pace of change is accelerating rapidly, making it impossible to nail down a concrete number for how much time LLMs can save your organization. However, a working paper by Tyna Eloundou (OpenAI), Sam Manning (OpenAI, OpenResearch), Pamela Mishkin (OpenAI), and Daniel Rock (University of Pennsylvania) finds a figure. It says up to 56% of all worker tasks in the US “could be completed significantly faster at the same level of quality” by using LLMs.

Imagine what the impact would be on your organization if over 50% of your employees’ tasks could be completed faster. It would be enormous — it would allow them to focus on the work they want to be doing and could transform your retention rate. At NearForm we’re already working with huge brands to help them overcome the challenge of leveraging LLMs.

AI can increase the pool of available tech professionals, by making it easier for people to access the training they need to work in technical roles

A 2020 survey by CWJobs of 2,000 people found that over 50% of UK workers were considering a move into a technical role. At that time, 8% of these respondents had moved to a technical role and played their part in adding to the pool of talented tech professionals.

With this in mind, it’s important to note that learning new skills is one of the biggest career change obstacles. AI can help overcome this obstacle by revolutionizing training for people who are interested in moving into a technical role.

Bard is a clear example of how AI can be used to help people learn coding. Developed by Google and released in March 2023, Bard is a generative AI chatbot. As Google explains: “Bard can help explain code snippets for you. This is particularly helpful if you’re learning about programming for the first time, or if you need some additional support to understand what a block of code might output.” Bard also helps people to debug code. The chatbot provides an error message when something goes wrong and then helps you to fix it.

These things mean Bard can be used as a digital personal tutor, one that creates personalized learning experiences and adapts to individual needs. This could be hugely beneficial in encouraging people to begin their journey to becoming technical professionals, as it’s a no-cost-no-pressure way of learning tech skills. Once they get these basics, people will have the confidence in their abilities to see paying for further education as a worthwhile investment.

However, while it can lower the barriers to entry people come up against when thinking about retraining for a technical role, what AI can’t do is give people a tech job. If these newly skilled individuals are to help reduce the shortage of tech professionals, organizations will still need to take a chance on them. This may seem like a brave move but, given this is an 8.5 trillion dollar problem, it could well be a prudent approach to securing much-needed new employees.

Conclusion: AI won’t solve the global shortage of tech professionals, but it could improve retention rates for existing employees and help bring new ones into the workforce

We’ve given you an example of how AI can be used to tackle issues with retaining existing employees and sourcing new tech professionals, but the technology isn’t a cure-all. The shortage of tech professionals is a complex and multifaceted problem that requires a range of solutions from organizations across the world.

To ensure you’re able to source and then retain the best tech professionals, you need to deliver a great DX, create an open organization, leverage AI and use every other tactic at your disposal. These are things NearForm can help you with.

We have a long history of helping organizations to build the capability they need to deliver sustained impact. We’ve built internal developer platforms to improve DX, brought our clients into the open source community, designed, developed and delivered AI solutions, and more.

But don’t take our word for it, here’s what Fergus Fleming, Chief Technology Officer at Renalytix, says about our work:

“What the guys from NearForm bring is a continuous learning, challenging the future. Always looking ahead and knowing what’s out there. Taking a very disciplined approach to evaluating the different options. Making informed decisions as to what is the route forward.”

If you’re looking for a software consultancy partner to take your organization to the next level, contact us today and speak to one of our experts about how we can help.

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