The single biggest gating factor when it comes to enabling managed service providers (MSPs) to expand their business is almost always the available technology expertise they can hire. MSPs are locked in a perennial war for IT talent not only with each other, but also with the organizations that rely on internal IT teams to manage talent. A report from DICE, an online job posting site for IT professionals, suggests that competition for a limited pool of IT talent is only intensifying.

Technology job postings increased 16 percent in the second quarter of 2021, with New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco leading the way in terms of volume. With regards to percentage over the previous quarter, the biggest jumps in volume occurred in Austin and Boston (25 percent), followed by Dallas (22 percent), and New York (21 percent).

IT professionals with Python programming skills and individuals with project management experience are now among the most sought-after, the DICE report finds. There was also a significant jump in the number of jobs posted requiring expertise with software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms from Salesforce as more organizations continue to replace on-premises applications in the wake of a COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of these job posting are the direct result of a wave of people that earlier this year left their jobs as part of the “Great Resignation” phenomenon. Last April alone, nearly 4 million people, or 2.8 percent of the workforce, resigned, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

The need to attract and retain IT talent is an issue that MSPs have always needed to address. Accomplishing that goal, however, is becoming more challenging. With an increasing number of IT professionals working from home, many have realized they can work for almost any company. The days when IT professionals limited their job searches to where they could commute to in about an hour are long over.

On the plus side, that shift also makes it possible for MSPs to hire talent anywhere in the world they can find it. On the downside, IT recruiters are casting their net wider than ever as they seek to convince IT professional to go to work for an organization that might be physically located on an entirely different continent. Inevitably, the cost of IT labor is going to rise as MSPs find themselves being forced to counter such offers.

Three ways MSPs can mitigate the fierce competition for IT talent

The first step for MSPs in becoming more competitive when seeking IT talent is to launch a “charm offensive.” It’s easy to sometimes take employees for granted. MSP leaders know the reason employees stay with an organization go beyond merely salary. All things being equal financially, it often comes down to who they simply like to work with every day.

The second thing MSPs need to do is develop a “farm” system – think major league baseball. The next generation of IT employees need to be trained. MSPs that invest in developing ties with, for example, local community colleges will gain access to a pool of eager recruits.

Finally, MSPs need to invest in automation. Many of the tasks that IT professionals have traditionally performed are no longer required. MSPs need to assess not only what can be automated today, but also where best to apply IT talent as a result. In fact, one of the primary reasons IT people leave a position is the tasks assigned to them have become rote. Their job has become boring. MSPs need to make sure their IT teams are continually engaged, which generally means enabling them to learn new skills.

Savvy MSPs spend a lot of time managing talent. They think more like a general manager of a sports franchise than they do a traditional company. They are almost always continuously recruiting talent wherever it can be found. It’s that focus more often than not that winds up being the ultimate key to their success.

Photo: tomertu / Shutterstock

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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