get market intelligence with our 2021 research. 

If finding talent seems near impossible these days, you are not alone in your experiences. The talent shortage most of us are experiencing has been ongoing for some time, and all signs indicate that we will continue to grapple with this challenge for much longer. And it’s not just a pandemic-induced phenomenon either. Sure, the acceleration of digitalization has worsened the situation, but we’ve known for some time that in-demand skills, especially digital skills,  were going to be hard to hire.

Randstad Sourceright’s new in-demand skills report, which analyzes and provides job and labor market data for nine high-demand skills across 26 markets, shows that the competencies so many businesses need right now are similar to those that were needed before the arrival of COVID-19. The demand now, however, is more urgent. 

With the exception of blockchain, most of these skills have been driving the development of the digital economy for some time. Difficulties with expanding the pool of artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), data science and other information and communications technology (ICT) specialists are one reason why, according to the European Commission, markets such as the EU are struggling to keep up with the anticipated need for these workers. It estimates that the European economy in 2021 employed 8.4 million workers in these roles, but by 2030 the union will need 20 million.       

Europe is not alone in its struggle to fill these critical roles. From November of 2020 to March of this year, the number of U.S. job postings for AI professionals nearly doubled. In leading markets such as the U.S., competition for skilled IT workers has never been more heated. And salary growth for IT professionals in Asia has averaged more than 10% in a year’s time. These trends reflect the challenging environment all employers are operating in. 

market competitiveness for in-demand skills

In fact, the data shows just how difficult some skills are to come by. In Hong Kong, for instance, there are only two potential candidates for each cybersecurity opening. Even in the largest economy in the world, in the U.S. there are just six potential candidates for each role specializing in blockchain. Professionals who specialize in IoT can expect an easy time finding employment in Canada, Romania, the Netherlands and Portugal, where the ratio of candidates to job openings is five.

While some markets have large pools of skilled labor, these places also have huge demand for this talent. For instance, India has the largest number of robotic process automation (RPA) specialists in the world (more than 138k), but it also has the second largest number of jobs posted for these skills. Similarly, the U.S. has by far the largest pool of data science workers (more than 571k), but it also has the largest number of vacancies posted for this specialty — more than four times the number of jobs posted in India, which comes in second. 

Our research finds that having a large talent supply in your market doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easier to find candidates there; rather, it only means these are more dynamic markets.

meeting talent expectations to attract in-demand skills

Trying to acquire the skills your business needs can be a frustrating process during this time. Wage inflation is accelerating around the world, according to the Financial Times, and compensation is rising much faster in markets like the U.S. and Germany than they have in years past. This comes on the heels of stagnant wage growth over the past decade, which set unrealistic expectations for employers regarding salaries.

Randstad latest Workmonitor research shows two-thirds of surveyed workers say the pandemic has empowered them to change jobs. With so many ready to make changes to their careers, workers are demanding significant raises, giving companies sticker shock in the process. To effectively compete for the top in-demand skills, employers will need to stay well-informed about competitive pay rates and what motivates talent.

Wages aside, workers are also hitting the reset button on employment terms. The most significant changes are around job flexibility and remote working. During the past two years, the number of jobs touting remote work has grown exponentially, and many businesses including some in historically conservative sectors are adjusting workplace policies and culture to raise workforce satisfaction. I anticipate we will see these changes are permanent, and the old ways of hiring and working will never come back.

The embrace of remote work has led to some interesting remedies for talent scarcity. The most obvious is the ability to recruit talent located anywhere in the world. Moreover, companies may need to recalibrate their ways of working to build a permanent virtual workforce, despite having operated this way during the pandemic. 

six factors impacting in-demand skills recruitment 

The 'Global future in-demand skills 2021' report examines six factors impacting talent acquisition for each of the top nine most in-demand skills for the future These include:

  • the potential candidate supply pool 
  • market competitiveness
  • the target industries you’re competing with
  • total work experience breakdowns
  • education backgrounds 
  • compensation

By understanding how these factors affect the supply and demand in the 26 markets we focused on, your business can identify the areas where the skills you seek are most plentiful, where competition is minimal, and where compensation and experience align with your budget and needs. You can access your complimentary copy via the button below.

about the author

michael smith

global ceo of randstad sourceright

Mike joined Randstad in January 2005 as a graduate recruitment executive and has since held various operational and leadership roles. In January of 2021, he was named to his current position, through which he elevates Randstad Sourceright's customer value propositions, seeks out ongoing areas for differentiation and embeds change through investment in business transformation technology.