Technically People
Technically People
Dec 14, 2021
Turn Silver Medalists into Gold: Overcome the Tech Talent Shortage with Upskilling
Play • 23 min

Employers are facing a shortage of tech talent exactly as they’re investing more heavily in tech than ever, intensifying their need to hire more skilled professionals. 

In a 2020 McKinsey survey, 87% of companies say they’re experiencing skills gaps now or expect to in a few years. One third say they know how they’ll overcome this, citing a range of skills gaps: data analytics, IT management, executive management, HR and math skills, among others. 

Our guest this week, Fahim ul Haq, Cofounder and CEO of edtech company Educative, says that hiring to fill gaps isn’t an option when there just aren't enough professionals out there. Instead, the answer lies in hiring coachable talent who may be just slightly below the bar, then upskilling and reskilling them. 

“The idea is to convert your silver medalist into gold medalist,” he says, noting that this investment in people’s futures makes you more attractive to candidates and boosts employees’ retention and engagement.  

In the episode, Fahim also offers advice to help non-technical recruiters attract technical talent more effectively: Learn relevant technical language, he says, as well as engineers’ general preferences, like the desire to ship code without a lot of red tape. 

“Understand that ‘react’ is not a verb,” he says. “It’s a JavaScript framework developers use to build websites. Understand that ‘rust,’ for us, is not something that happens to iron. You know, I'm making fun of this, but I have heard recruiters use terms in weird ways and it can be a turn-off for candidates.”  

One approach is to tear a page from Educative. Employees there interact with technologists every day, whether customers or the instructors who author courses. So all employees take a Python course to grasp general concepts. 

“Angular” is not just something that’s pointy. And recruiters who know this will make deeper connections with tech candidates. 


  • The cold hard truth if you think it's risky to hire less seasoned talent with the intent to upskill
  • Why hiring and training "silver medalist" talent leads to better retention
  • A trend in which companies are giving candidates courses before their interviews, giving them the best shot at success
  • The need for recruiters to show they understand what matters to engineers, from shipping code quickly to working on new tech
  • Per McKinsey, among companies that offer reskilling programs, 48% say the programs have enhanced bottom-line growth


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