My career took root in the tech industry, but the lessons learned there are universally applicable to all sectors. Tech has always been synonymous with the frantic pace of change; As the industry conjures up images of engineers working at breakneck speed to implement new version after new version, stagnation is a dirty word.
AI is further expanding the pace of these innovations and accelerating the cadence of the workplace across all sectors. As company founders, this allows us to closely observe trends and strategies in the tech industry and use these insights to predict what's happening everywhere, shaping our hiring practices over the next few years.
CTOs (Chief Technology Officers), often responsible for hiring and firing talent in tech, are the canaries in the coal mine when it comes to future-proofing recruitment. They operate in high-speed moving environments for longer periods of time. As the pace of change accelerates for all of us, they are uniquely placed to identify emerging trends and changes, particularly as skills and roles gain or lose relevance. Their decisions and insights provide valuable insight into the new demands of the tech industry.
In a recent survey I conducted with leading CTOs, the consensus was to hire for longevity rather than immediacy, de-emphasizing traditional skills and instead focusing on adaptability and problem-solving acumen. I know this first hand having dropped out of university twice due to its rigid structure. It was only later in life that I understood the key to success and that it was not about formal qualifications, but a willingness to learn and adapt. In engineering teams, it's not just traditional technical skills like coding, but an aptitude for learning, teamwork, and proactive problem-solving.
It was only later in life that I understood the key to success and that it was not about formal qualifications, but a willingness to learn and adapt.
The further penetration of generative AI into workflows, as seen recently at companies like Duolingo, is a timely reminder that the need to adapt is here now. The company has reduced its contractor workforce by 10%, using AI to fulfill some of its functions, a sign that change is imminent. This move is indicative of a broader trend: the ability to use new technological tools rapidly and skillfully is becoming inevitable.
The shift towards AI-driven changes in the workforce underscores the importance of skill. More emphasis should be placed on upskilling existing employees rather than recycling the workforce. Telecom giant AT&T is a classic example; After conducting a skill gap analysis, they found that almost half of their employees needed more suitable skills for the future needs of the company. Instead of extensive recruitment, AT&T has focused on upskilling and reskilling initiatives, particularly in areas such as AI. In 2022, the company will spend $135 million on employee learning and development, providing online education platforms for tailored learning opportunities.
What does this mean for startups? Upskilling, especially in areas like AI, is not just a solution to skill shortages. It is a strategic long-term investment and helps develop a dynamic, adaptive workforce that is critical to driving innovation and growth in your business.