The technology community is no stranger to evolving and expanding demands or the talent challenges that are often affiliated with its fast-paced growth trajectory. With the advent of 5G just around the corner, the number of connected devices reaching staggering numbers and emerging technologies stretching the capabilities and resources of businesses across the industry, hiring and talent demands are likely to only increase. Especially as the workforce itself begins to take on a new form, with millenials comprising more than half of the talent pool by 2020, many businesses are unsure about how to ensure they are building and keeping the capable teams they need to support their service and product delivery into the future.
The 2019 NEDAS NYC Summit, an event focusing on education, collaboration and problem solving at the intersection of wireline and wireless, explored this topic further in a panel session titled The Drive to 5G: Workforce Challenges and Opportunities. The presentation was moderated by Carrie Charles, CEO of Broadstaff Global, and featured panelists Steve Yapsuga, Co-Chair of the Advisory Council for NEDAS and COMBA Telecom; Nikki Greenberg, Founder of Women in PropTech and Kent Wessinger, Founder of Create2Elevate.
Creating a solution begins by identifying roadblocks, and as the panelists noted, the main talent challenges the industry is seeing today involve things like potential workforce members not knowing how to break into the industry, a lack of mentorship and a lack of truly specialized talent. Greenberg notes that the millennials’ access to a vast array of information could be leading to individuals not wanting to specialize. However, Wessinger, delving into his research of the comparative experience of millennials and other age groups, notes that a narrow view of any demographic can lead to the millennial workforce being misunderstood and therefore underutilized by those who are in leadership positions now. He suggests that developing a strategy for long-term workforce success may come from seeking common ground and developing a realistic plan of action.
Yapsuga also notes a difference in the trajectory of working life for many individuals as a whole, highlighting the fact that the days of going to school, getting a job and never returning to school are over. Now, many people are having to re-learn and re-skill for emerging technologies. As it stands, many companies are not able to bridge this divide and educate their workforce because strategies are not in place. Yapsuga notes that while apprenticeships and other similar skill-building opportunities are gaining traction, there is still a long way to go. When it comes to education, another initiative that is growing is the focus on tapping schools, colleges and other educational establishments early to ensure that the emerging workforce knows that these jobs are out there and has a chance to take an interest in them. This will help solve workforce challenges at the source, hopefully widening the talent pool in the future.
However, this does not fix the growing challenge of keeping talent. Wessinger explains that, while baby boomers tend to stay in positions for years, millennials only stay in the same position for an average of 16 months. The cost of replacing that one individual can total up to $38,000, which, when incurred every 16 months, really adds up. To combat this, Wessinger urges the industry to prioritize one-on-one mentorship time with the newer workforce. Citing his research, which revealed that 74 percent of surveyed millennials stated they longed for these learning opportunities, he notes that leadership should offer their wisdom and teach their skill sets readily.
Moving forward, workforce success in an era of rapidly changing demands and highly competitive business landscape depends on dialogue, understanding and exploration. There certainly are challenges when it comes to hiring, including a shrinking talent pool and a lack of critical skills, but the only way to create the labor businesses need is to offer guidance and education. With a new generation of workers emerging, the time to create a path for success begins now.
To learn more about this topic, please click here to view the entire panel presentation.
To learn more about NEDAS, please visit www.nedas.com.