Confronting technology and telecom’s skilled labor shortage

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The skilled worker shortage has hit the tech and telecom sector hard. Investing in education and training programs could help organizations improve talent prospects and maintain growth.

Key takeaways

  • Investing in education and training programs could offer a sustainable solution to the skilled labor shortage.
  • Understanding current and future labor needs could help inform programming needed to fulfill worker skill needs.
  • Tailored financial solutions could help balance short-term expenditures with long-term workforce gains.
  • Developing retention strategies in tandem with continuous learning opportunities could enhance tech and telecom professionals’ engagement with an organization.

At a time when the technology and telecom sectors are experiencing unprecedented growth, the global skilled labor shortage could stop progress in its tracks. One study estimates the deficit of skilled workers could exceed 85 million by 2030, potentially leading to $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenue. In the U.S. tech sector alone, that could amount to an estimated $162 billion in lost revenue. If left unchecked, this shortage could hamper companies’ growth aspirations, not to mention competitiveness and innovation in tech and telecom.

"These sectors are seeing incredible growth, and demand for skilled workers to support them is extraordinarily high. Being unable to access skilled technicians and specialists is preventing companies from taking advantage of this opportunity."

Cindy Rogers
Senior Managing Director, Head of Technology and Telecom Banking at Huntington

The fight for labor has led to a search for new strategies to cultivate and maintain workforces, such as moving away from degree requirements and focusing on skills. One promising approach to counter this crisis could be investing in education and specialized training programs. Though not without its own set of challenges, this tactic could help companies build the skilled workforce needed to support growth.

Widening the talent pool through education and training

Rapid growth within these sectors demands a skilled workforce adept at handling the unpredictability of the industry. The pool of candidates available and qualified for these roles is small, making it increasingly difficult to hire people. A lack of candidates could lead to slower advancements in new areas like cloud computing, machine learning, or fiber optics installation.

Investing in education and training programs, however, could offer a sustainable solution.

Findings from a McKinsey study of more than 700 organizations demonstrate the importance many are placing on reskilling in the face of a labor shortage§:

  • 58% reported that closing skill gaps had become a top priority for their company.
  • 46% of respondents reported an increase in redeploying talent within their organization.
  • More than 50% of respondents stated their organization planned to spend more on learning and skill building in the coming year.

In addition to upskilling existing employees to fill roles with internal candidates, training programs aimed at potential employees could also be beneficial.

Examples of these programs include:

  • Collaborating with educational institutes to develop courses or degree programs that prepare students or recent graduates for roles in the tech and telecom sector. In recent years, several U.S.-based tech giants have developed certification courses and two-year college curriculum with the goal of training future employees – sometimes even covering the costs of the programs.
  • Apprenticeships or internships to further provide practical experience for learners and build a reliable talent pipeline for the industry.
  • Offer specialized courses to professionals in areas like software development, network engineering, cybersecurity, data analysis, and cloud computing.

Many of these initiatives would require significant financial and time investments, but the outcome could widen the candidate pool and alleviate constraints to innovation.

Understanding skill needs now and into the future

A well-trained workforce can help ensure a company’s resilience and competitive edge in a volatile market. However, relevant skills in these sectors are constantly evolving, and identifying the right programs to align with future industry needs could be a hurdle. Understanding the organization’s critical skills needed to drive strategic growth, how those needs might evolve, and where there are gaps in the workforce could be critical to success.

“Take a proactive approach to assessing your workforce needs. Rather than waiting until you’re desperate for workers, start planning now for what you’ll need from future workers to meet growth goals,” says Rogers.

Knowing not just where an organization is headed, but also where the tech and telecom industries are headed, can inform that proactive approach. For example, a 2023 Statista study of 18,200 recruiters found the most desirable tech skills were in:

  • Web development: 58.3% of respondents
  • DevOps: 35.55% of respondents
  • AI/Machine Learning/Deep Learning: 24.6% of respondents

As uses for generative AI and machine learning increase, organizations can expect that skill to be in even higher demand. The same could be said for cloud architects as the need for cloud solutions becomes greater. As the industry evolves, organizations within the tech and telecom sectors could benefit from focusing on areas and skills that align with industry shifts.

Balancing financial investment and skill returns

Successful investments in workers early in their career could help build loyalty to the organization, as well as influence the candidate pool in the future.

Skill development opportunities for existing employees benefits the company by allowing them to fill roles with internal candidates. Focusing on in-demand skills, such as web development, database software skills, and cybersecurity could all help bridge the gap. However, these training programs do require significant investment.

The financial constraints in developing comprehensive education and training programs could be a hindrance for tech and telecom organizations operating with a more limited budget. Tailored financing solutions could help support these initiatives. Specialized loans, flexible financing, growth capital, and equipment financing could all help balance short-term expenditures with long-term gains.

Developing retention and engagement strategies

Retaining upskilled and reskilled workers has become as important as recruiting new talent. Rapid technological advancements require companies and workers to be knowledgeable and adaptable. As a result, professional growth and continuous learning are notable motivators for tech and telecom professionals.

According to a survey of 1,200 U.S. tech/IT/software employees, 58% of respondents stated skill development is in their top criteria when searching for a new job, and 9 in 10 respondents desired more learning and development opportunities from their company.

However, training investments could raise the risk of turnover as skilled workers leave for increased pay or benefits. Developing retention strategies alongside programming could help retain these skilled workers. The top three areas of importance for tech, media, and telecom professionals searching for a new job are compensation, work-life balance flexibility, and health benefits.

Expanding health and wellness benefits, offering work flexibility, and career advancement opportunities could further deepen employee engagement and retention. There are a variety of options for companies seeking to fund this type of programming, such as employee benefit financing and other tailored financial products to help create attractive working environments.

Navigating the skilled labor shortage

Embracing innovative education, training, and workforce management strategies are all opportunities for organizations within the tech and telecom sector to help navigate the skilled labor shortage. Finding a financial institution that understands the industry and offers strategic solutions tailored to technological advancements and workforce development could be crucial in this endeavor. To learn more about how Huntington can support your organization’s initiatives, contact our team.

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Related Content

Franzino, Michael, Alan Guarino, Yannick Binvel, Jean-Marc Laouchez. N.d. “The $8.5 Trillion Talent Shortage.” Accessed November 29, 2023. The $8.5 Trillion Talent Shortage (

The $8.5 Trillion Talent Shortage. § McKinsey & Company. 2021. “Building Workforce Skills at Scale to Thrive During – and After – the COVID-19 Crisis.” Accessed November 29, 2023. Skill building at scale during the pandemic | McKinsey

Field, Kelly. September 4, 2019. “Tech Giants and 2-Year Colleges Are Teaming Up to Teach In-Demand Skills.” Higher Ed Dive, 2019. Accessed November 29, 2023. Tech giants and 2-year colleges are teaming up to teach in-demand skills | Higher Ed Dive

Statista Research Department. November 13, 2023. “Most Demanded Tech Skills Worldwide 2023.” Statistics, 2023. Accessed November 29, 2023.  

Talent LMS & Workable. “Survey: Retaining Tech Employees in the Era of The Great Resignation.” Accessed November 29, 2023. The Great Resignation of 2021: Survey on why more and more tech workers are quitting their jobs | TalentLMS

KPMG. 2022. “American Worker Survey – Technology, Media, and Communications.” Accessed November 29, 2023. American Worker Survey - Technology, Media, and Telecom (

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