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Live at AWS re:Invent: Building a talent pipeline

January 06, 2023

Faye Ellis, Principal Training Architect at Pluralsight, sat down with CloudReach podcast hosts Jez Ward, Global Head of Advisory, and Darren Bowling, Senior Cloud Advisory, during AWS re:Invent 2022 to discuss the talent crisis in the technology industry.

More than 50% of organizations say the current skills shortage severely impacted company growth or posed an existential crisis to their businesses in 2022. Many organizations are implementing programs, training incentives, and setting designated time for skill development in response. But it’s not nearly enough. You need a talent pipeline strategy so you’re not swayed by changes in the marketplace.

Examining the talent crisis: How did we get here?

The world of technology really got its start post-WWII with industry leaders like Xerox and IBM. Before long, Apple and Windows moved in, challenging the tech space. Then came Amazon, and the industry exploded. Now there’s a huge need for technical workers who can understand, operate, and work with these ever-changing technologies.

With innovation occurring at such an incredible speed, can anyone keep up? It takes time to learn and implement new services. And it becomes even harder when new services are going to market even faster than ever before. Is it even possible to bridge this tech skills gap?

Organizations are looking for exceptional talent related to cloud and digital transformation. They find themselves fighting for the most qualified individual in a talent pool that only seems to be shrinking. Only 8% of technologists say they have extensive experience working with cloud-related tools. Cloud talent doesn’t just appear overnight, though, so it’s time to start asking what we can do to make that talent pool bigger.

What is a talent pipeline?

A talent pipeline, often called a talent pool, is a set of candidates who are ready and able to fill a position within your organization. These candidates may be internal employees who are working on skill development for a new position or external candidates who you’ve pre-qualified for a specific position.

How to build a talent pipeline

Certifications are the go-to answer for many leaders and technologists. They’re a great tool. Cloud certifications give people a common language to use around cloud computing. They help technologists understand the theory behind cloud computing before they bury their head in one specialty or another.

Pluralsight offers ready-made certification prep courses

Pluralsight Skills offers certification prep courses on all the most popular cloud certifications.

But, too often, the certification is seen as the goal. And it shouldn’t. Certifications are a starting point. It’s a literacy test. But to build a cloud talent pipeline, you need fluency, or the ability to apply that knowledge in real-world situations. 

Online training and learning paths can help prepare technologists for certification exams. They’re more cost-effective than traditional, classroom based learning; offer a wide-range of topics that extend knowledge outside of certifications; and democratize access to this kind of information.

With on-demand learning tools, people from all over the world, and from all walks of life, have access to the tools to develop cloud skills when and how they want. And that means more people bringing in new and different perspectives. This diversity creates more innovation and introduces new perspectives on organizational obstacles.

How to build a talent pipeline in four steps

Learning the cloud takes time. This problem isn’t going to solve itself overnight. Leaders need to change their mindset from consuming existing talent to creating their own talent pipelines. Instead of getting outbid for the most qualified candidates, leaders can build skill development processes into their organizations that develop the cloud skills they need from talent they already have. The hardest part of building these talent pipelines is shifting your mindset.

Change the way you recruit talent

Don’t get so caught up in the years of experience or college degree that you miss the potential in a candidate. Evaluate your job descriptions to ensure they speak to a variety of candidates with different ages, races, and genders. This fills the gaps throughout your talent pipeline, ensuring you always have someone ready to move into that next role.

Change your definition of qualified talent

The key to creating a sustainable talent pipeline is finding the right people. When interviewing candidates, put your focus first on the soft skills that make a candidate a continuous learner and then on the specific skills they’ve acquired. Building a dynamic technical team requires different perspectives and the ability to learn new technologies as they come to market. Seek out those candidates, even if they aren’t the most technically qualified on the market.

Retain so you don’t have to recruit

It’s harder than ever to find talent. And you already have the people you need in your organization. Invest in the skill development for employees you already have. Not only are they more likely to stay (according to 94% of technologists), but you also keep critical institutionalized knowledge in-house. Not to mention saving the three months it would take to acclimate a new hire to your organization.

Give technologists opportunities for skill development

The number one barrier for technologists looking to develop skills is finding the time. As a leader, you should allocate that time for them as part of their job function. You build talent pipelines by creating a culture of continuous learning and innovation that can only happen when you give your team the tools and time to develop those skills. 

As we work together to combat the talent crisis, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. Welcome diversity and focus on your internal organization. Invest time into your employees and allow them to learn at work. Find courses that will support their career and your business. As a leader, make it your mission to create an innovative culture that fosters growth, openness, and prosperity.

Start your own cloud talent pipeline with a Pluralsight Skills free trial