As IT continues to be an in-demand career and the United States faces a tech skills shortage, the best way managed services providers (MSPs) can ensure they find and retain talent is by providing them with opportunities for growth. However, for tech SMBs, this doesn’t come without challenges.
“Businesses are challenged with finding early career talent with skills to start contributing on day one. So, should businesses find new talent, or should they be looking at upskilling their existing staff? Or is it a bit of both?” asked Cynthia Mooney, global sales account manager at HP and member of the CompTIA North American Executive Council, during a Workforce Committee breakout session at CompTIA’s Communities & Councils Forum.
“How do businesses justify taking employees out of their current role and investing time and money to train in highly demanding and highly lucrative roles like security or data science?” she asked.
CompTIA’s Workforce Committee and Workforce Solutions team are working to help MSPs find the resources they need to find and retain talent and build the right training programs.
Upskill Your Staff to Fill Your Pipeline
Hiring the right people is critical for any MSP looking to build a resilient, scalable organization, but with the massive skills shortage, the answer isn’t always hiring net-new talent.
“Employers should absolutely be investing in upskilling into networking, and into cybersecurity. One of the best ways to build our cybersecurity workforce is to skill it up and not just keep hiring the few cybersecurity experts that are out there,” said Nancy Hammervik, chief solutions officer, CompTIA.
By investing in training and upskilling your internal expertise, you can reduce long-term costs and improve retention, two factors that will help you grow your MSP business.
“You have to be invested in building your own talent,” Hammervik said. “Investing in them for upskilling, and reskilling, those are the folks that you can get into cybersecurity and into data, we really need to invest in our teams.”
Consider Hiring Apprentices
There are many on-ramps to a career in tech, and there is no entry-level job in tech that you need a college degree for, according to Hammervik. Hiring apprentices is another great option for MSPs looking to source and grow tech talent to fill open job roles. Apprentices bring fresh perspectives and ideas to your MSP business and help you meet your hiring needs.
“The government is putting a lot of money, funding and support into apprenticeship programs for tech as a vocational skill,” Hammervik said. “When you’re thinking about how we can build the future tech workforce, think about this as an on-ramp.”
With the help of government funding and CompTIA’s Apprenticeships for Tech program – which allows for better, smarter and more inclusive IT and cybersecurity talent development – hiring an apprentice could be a cost-saving option for SMBs.
“Apprenticeship is a programmatic shift of how you control the destiny of your talent hires,” said Richard Braden, senior director of tech apprenticeships, CompTIA. “Take all the things that you’re doing and look at apprenticeships as a way of really accessing the market to be more inclusionary, that’s very important to understand. Because now we’re going to give you a methodology by which to bring those people into the organization, onboard them and train them effectively to a level of mastery. And it is often publicly funded.”
Apprenticeship programs not only open the pipeline for a more diverse talent pool with practical skills, but these individuals are also prepared to start contributing to your organization on day one; meaning you spend less time teaching them the fundamentals and more time getting them up to speed on your business processes.
“Unemployment is very low. In the United States we’ve got unemployment just under 4%, in the tech workforce it’s 1.5%, the lowest number it’s ever been,” Hammervik said. “What this means is we’re all competing for talent. A lot of people that have the tech skills already have the jobs and what we’ve been doing for the past few years is just a churn and burn through that same group of people.”
Apprenticeship programs are a great alternative to higher education and degree programs. They are not only beneficial to MSPs looking for tech talent, but also open up the options for individuals of all economic backgrounds to break into a career in tech.