How to avoid the talent shortage in ecommerce?
The past few years, the ecommerce market is booming all over Europe. And consumers plan to shop online even more. Deutsche Post published a research last week, which shows that by 2025, ecommerce share on overall trade in developed countries, will grow to 40%. In another research by Ecommerce Europe (Europe B2C Ecommerce Report 2013 – LIGHT version), it is estimated that the Internet economy in Europe consists of 3,5% of the total 16 trillion GDP of Europe. This percentage will double by 2016 and triple by 2020.
At the same time, the European Commission estimates that in 2015, Europe has a shortage of 700.000 IT people. This shortage could even go up to 900.000. Even in countries like Greece, where about 24% of the working population is jobless, there is still a shortage of IT people and vacancies remain open. The shortage is biggest in the Northern European countries.
The question for companies in Ecommerce is: how will you attract and retain talent? The past decades, we’ve all been fishing in the same pond. While there are very few talented IT specialists, we keep stealing them from each other, driving up the salaries.
One solution is to change the education system. While governments in Northern Europe have tried this, the results are not sufficient. In Sweden, about 3.000 people graduate from an IT education. In the Netherlands, this number is about 7.000. At the same time, the baby boom generation, with many people working in the IT industry, will leave the labor markets.
My strong belief is that there is only one solution: we have to change our mindsets. We need to start thinking about a global workforce, engaging talent where ever on the planet they live. In countries outside the EU, like India and Ukraine, there is a vast pool of highly educated engineers. India graduates about 300.000 people with an IT background every year.
To achieve this global mindset, we need to think in terms of talent, not location. We also need to change the way we organize. Of course, it’s easier to manage a person in your office, sitting next to you, speaking the same language and understanding your culture. To work with people remotely (even in the home country) requires a change in the infrastructure, in the systems we use and in the way we communicate. As many companies have shown, this can be achieved. The most extreme example is WordPress. They have over 220 employees working from 190 different locations all around the world. Everyone works from home.
If you are able to attract the brightest engineers from all over the world and they wrap their brains around creating more value for your company, you’ve got a strong competitive advantage. And you also guarantee that you can stay in business, for your competitors will have a big challenge finding the talent to grow their business.