Mind the Talent Gap – A New Report Shows Which Tech Roles are in High Demand

One of the main challenges for startups and young companies working to scale-up is filling those critical roles that are vital to the success of their business. For tech companies, these positions tend to cluster around specific skills that are most in demand and therefore present a challenge due to the potential talent gap. Recently, StartupAUS (a non-profit startup advocacy organization here in Australia) set out to study and identify potential talent gaps in the Australian startup ecosystem for these critical roles. The report compared Australia to other established ecosystems around the world such as the US, Germany, and Israel. The report, which was sponsored in part by Microsoft Australia, revealed some important trends that are true not only in Australia and its emerging tech ecosystem, but also across the global tech industry as a whole.

The report provided the following summary of which skills face potential gaps:

  • Coders - including full stack developers, front-end, back-end, and mobile
  • Startup-focused sales roles - account managers and business development managers
  • User experience designers

Additionally, emerging skills gaps are likely to develop in the following areas:

  • Product managers
  • Data scientist

What was illuminating for me was a mechanism the report identified in which a small number of employee roles, often corresponding to the in-demand categories listed above, can serve to spark growth and innovation for a startup. That is to say: individual, key employees can play an outsized role in the success of young tech companies.

As stated in the report:

“Highly-skilled positions are often able to trigger that high growth. People with the skills and experience to scale a business are the ones that are likely to lead a redevelopment of a startup’s product, sign a major client, analyze user behavior to improve business performance - make a tangible difference in a core area of the business that then unlocks the ability for that business to grow.”

An additional conclusion of the report that I found to be particularly relevant for me and for Microsoft for Startups, was the finding on the importance of sales and marketing roles. This conclusion was also highlighted by Steven Worrall, Managing Director of Microsoft Australia, who walked through some of the key points of the report in a keynote he delivered at a recent industry event. In an article in CIO Australia, he commented that:

“This report brings much needed balance to the discussion around the future of work … The report’s finding that sales and marketing are crucial to start-ups is no surprise to Microsoft and is one of the key areas of support Microsoft offers to its Scale-Up program participants.” I highly recommend you read the whole report. While focused specifically on Australia, it nevertheless provides valuable insights for startup founders from across the globe or for anyone in the tech industry who interacts with startups on a regular basis.