Why employers should rethink entry-level tech talent recruitment

The demand for Tech Talent is rising. Generation's survey found that the number of entry level tech positions is growing very fast across all industries. 86% Employers are hiring for entry level tech roles compared to non tech roles. And 62% employers are investing in things like on-boarding, mentorship and internships to build an entry-level tech talent pipeline.Additionally, 50% of employers believe that recruiting entry level tech talent will improve their company's profitability and growth.

Source: Generations: Launching a Tech Hiring Revolution

Recently, our Pledger Generation has released the report Launching a Tech Hiring Revolution which details the critical challenge many employers are facing in finding and recruiting entry-level tech talent and suggests how the first rung on tech’s broken job ladder can be fixed.

The current struggle to fill entry-level tech roles

However, the biggest barrier facing entry-level tech applicants seems to be the education and experience requirements.

Generation’s report reveals that 61% of employers have added to either the education or experience criteria, or both, over the last three years, with nearly two-thirds stating they made the changes to make their hiring process more efficient.

The problem is these added requirements have made it even harder to recruit capable, entry-level talent.

Work experience required

Despite an entry-level job, which is by definition a job that would require minimal work experience, 94% of employers across all industries said their entry-level tech hires must have some work experience in a related field, with 87% saying they need at least 6 months experience.

The main reasons employers justify adding the work experience requirement is that applicants:

  • Have stronger technical skills
  • Produce a higher quality of work
  • Are better at working independently

No degree? No job!

Additionally, many employers have moved to also add education alongside work experience requirements which is particularly prohibitive, with a third of unsuccessful tech role applicants falling down at this hurdle.

The Generation report also shows that half of employers require a degree for entry-level tech role, with 17% seeking applicants with a more specific STEM degree.

Three out of five employers require a university degree in middle-income countries, e.g., Albania and Romania, although this drops to two out of five in high-income countries, e.g., France and Germany. Similarly, 51% of large companies require applicants to have a degree, compared to 37% at smaller companies.

These current tech hiring trends are also affecting the career potential of historically under-represented groups.

The solution: Skills-based recruitment expands talent pool

While most employers have been tightening hiring requirements for entry-level tech roles, a small group that redefined their requirements to be more skills-based have discovered many benefits.

Employers that reduced the barriers to application by removing at least one requirement, education or work experience, saw the same or an increase in applicants who also delivered excellent performance. In fact, 34% of employers said these applicants performed better than their more formally educated or more experienced entry-level peers.

Additionally, replacing degree and work experience with technical certification as a screening tool also can help equalise diversity.

Generation’s research shows that technical assessments, such as case studies and coding challenges, can also help level the playing field for applicants with and without a technical degree. Given that 38% of entry-level tech job seekers weren’t hired because they lacked the technical skills required, building these skills appears to be critical for entry-level tech applicants, and this is what our initiative is helping to address.

Many employers have also added behavioural skills requirements such as communication skills, teamwork, problem solving and creativity.

The 4 actions that can unlock the barriers to entry-level tech jobs

1: Bring back entry level jobs. Removing work experience and degree requirements in favour of technical certifications and other skills indicators, captures more applicants with greater diversity and achieves a comparable performance.2: Skills based approach. During the hiring process, use technical assessments to ensure applicants have the necessary skills for the job.
3: Embrace hard skills & behavioral skills. Throughout the hiring process, keep paying attention to behavioral skills as well as technical capability.
4: Rethink hiring teams. People hire people! Diversifying your recruiters can help reduce tacit bias and bring in a wider range of talent

Source: Generations: Launching a Tech Hiring Revolution

Key takeaway

Even though employers are strongly motivated to expand their entry-level tech talent pipelines, they are struggling to change restrictive hiring processes.

Removing experience and education requirements will help increase the applicant pool and during the hiring process making use of technical assessments and paying attention to behavioural skills will also help.

Generation is continuing to explore the possibilities of skills-based approaches and plan to assemble employers who want to make the necessary changes to increase talent diversity and improve the success rate of filling these entry-level tech roles.


Where can I find out more?

You can download the Generation report here: https://global.generation.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/LaunchingATechRevolution_Generation_Jun2023.pdf


About our Pledger Generation

Among our first Pledgers, four organisations from the Generation ecosystem (UK, Ireland, Italy, and Spain) pledged, in total, 11,000 talents and 21 courses on our platform. As a global employment, non-profit network, spanning 17 countries, Generation helps people achieve economic mobility by training and placing them in careers that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Recently, Generation Spain was one of the winners of the EIT Deep Tech Talent Initiative Training Prize 2023 in Category 2 ‘Targeted Training’ for its programme, ‘Empowering Europe’s Youth: Bridging the Skills Gap in Robotics Automation for a Digital Future’, and in the same category, Generation Ireland received a 2nd place prize for its programme, ‘Women in Tech: Bridging the Gender Skilling Gap with Generation Ireland’s IT Support and Cybersecurity Program’.