The shortage of technological talent triggers the salary of specialists by 20%

Companies are desperate.

The shortage of technological talent triggers the salary of specialists by 20%

Companies are desperate. There is less and less technological talent available. It had always been complicated, but in recent months recruiting ICT professionals has become a real puzzle. And retain it for the long term, on an odyssey.

If the usual thing is that 60 available candidates arise for each job offer, in the digital sector the ratio is 3 applicants for each job position. "This indicator clearly shows that demand is very stressed in Barcelona," says Jordi Arcas, CEO of the consultancy firm Talent Up.

And a direct consequence of the low availability is that salaries have skyrocketed by more than 20% between 2020 and 2021. According to data from the Mobile World Capital foundation, they have exceeded 46,000 euros (23%) on average in Barcelona and 43,000 (27%) in Madrid, a sharp rise when compared to previous years (see graph).

“Demand from companies is growing at a much higher rate than the capacity to generate or import these professionals from abroad,” admits Jordi Arrufí, director of Barcelona Digital Talent, an alliance of MWCapital.

The phenomenon, of global scope, "has been accentuated as a result of the pandemic, which has accelerated the digital needs of all sectors of the economy," says Susana Vicente, director of People at Adevinta Spain, one of the largest technology firms of the city, with more than 1,000 employees, which controls platforms such as Infojobs and Fotocasa. In her case, the need to retain talent has forced her to revise upwards the salaries of all her workers and even apply double-digit annual increases to those who work in the areas of web and product development. “This is how we get the annual turnover rate, which measures the personnel who leave the company, to be 10%. The usual in the sector is that it is around 30% ”, she affirms.

Multinationals such as Adevinta, and especially large technology companies from the United States and other corporations that have recently opened hubs in Barcelona and Madrid, can afford to pay the highest salaries in the market, but this is not the case with SMEs and start-ups, which also need the same talent to meet your technology needs.

The co-founder of Glovo, Oscar Pierre, recognized it last week at the Cercle de Economia conference. “We are experiencing a never-before-seen flight of talent towards big tech, it is very difficult to compete with their salaries.” And if the phenomenon is already harming one of the city's unicorns, small start-ups and SMEs show even more desperation.

“There is a salary bubble that is unaffordable for start-ups that have just started. The arrival of hubs of large corporations is well seen because it reinforces the solidity of the ecosystem but at the same time it destroys local companies. It seems that the administrations are not aware of this”, laments Eudald Camprubí, CEO of Nuclia, specializing in advanced Internet search software. According to Camprubí, large companies concentrate the best talent and the intellectual property generated by local workers ends up in foreign hands. “This way it is very difficult to create first-rate businesses,” he laments.

It is even more difficult for SMEs, especially if they operate outside of Barcelona. “We are from Vilafranca del Penedès and capturing digital talent is becoming more and more difficult for us. It is impossible to fight against the multinationals that arrive at the stroke of a checkbook and open beautiful offices in front of the sea”, says Martina Font, corporate and innovation director of the packaging company Font Packaging Group and the start-up Kartox.

Faced with the impossibility of equalizing salaries, SMEs are at the mercy of these professionals. “Twenty years ago, we were the ones who set the conditions. Now, the opposite happens. They are the ones who set schedules and conditions. Teleworking is taken for granted”, indicates Font. In fact, 15% of the offers in the digital sector that are published in Barcelona are already 100% remote, according to data from Talent Up.

Beyond salary conditions and work organization, small and large companies also highlight the importance of the project when it comes to attracting professionals. “If they are not convinced by the activity you develop, it will be difficult for them to choose you or stay for a long time. They have to feel aligned with the values”, says Gerard Esparducer, manager in Spain of Erni, a Swiss software firm, which advocates promoting the visa of non-EU technology professionals to fill the shortage of talent in the country.

The desperation of companies to retain them is shown in a long list of benefits that they have begun to offer. "We organize events, training, we give free food...", says Esparducer. There are even companies that offer unlimited vacations (see bottom piece).

At The Knot Worldwide, a company specialized in organizing weddings, they have also launched a language training program and even a mental health care service. "For these workers, professional and personal life have merged," says Anna Bisart, Vice President of People at the company, which has an international hub in Barcelona.

But the efforts of the companies are of little use. The usual thing is that once inside, these workers stay less than two years, about 19 months on average, according to data from Talent Up. "It is increasingly common for them to enter a company to develop a specific project and when they finish it, they leave,” says Font.

The high turnover, points out the directive, gives them a "broad, versatile and competitive vision" but, at the same time, it means a waste of resources for companies. "You make a lot of efforts in training, especially the most junior talent, but they are in vain because the same professionals leave after a short time," laments Camprubí.

With this scenario, the battle for digital talent, whether junior or senior, has become one of the biggest concerns, if not the biggest, of all kinds of companies, both small and large, from technology sectors and also traditional ones. Nothing else is talked about in the business forums.

In Barcelona, ​​all kinds of programs and initiatives have emerged to combat the phenomenon. For example, this week, the MWCapital foundation, the Barcelona City Council and Acció (Generalitat) have brought together 300 foreign students with different multinationals that have hubs in the city. The Tech Barcelona association also organizes afterworks to connect young talent with companies. Likewise, the City Council has created training schools, such as Bcn Inclusive Coding, to train people at risk of exclusion.

The reskilling (retraining) of professionals is seen as one of the great solutions to the shortage of talent. Also the need to convince young people, especially women, to pursue STEM careers. generating technological talent is a giant opportunity to fight against unemployment.