Evolving RTD to deliver the future of tech
In today's rapidly evolving tech landscape, the significance of building the right team could not be greater. Businesses across technology are striving to remain competitive through innovation, while the pace of technological change is greater than ever.
Meanwhile, the pipeline of new computing talent coming out of university continues to lag behind the demands of the sector, even with the temporary slowdown in hiring that we’ve seen since late 2022.
The result of this is an ever-growing war for talent in the industry, which is doing little to increase diversity or close skills gaps in our technology teams. And a look at the talent pipeline coming out of university over the next three years shows that low levels of diversity and skills gaps will only continue to grow. Demand for technologists will continue to outstrip the supply of computing graduates, and the gender gap in computer science graduates will only reduce by 1%.
To navigate these challenges, many businesses have turned to Recruit, Train, Deploy (RTD). This is thanks to a number of key strengths that it offers. Firstly, its ability to transform high potential individuals from outside of technology into new tech talent has allowed businesses to create alternative pathways for people to enter their technology teams. And secondly, it offers businesses a lower risk method of scaling their teams. More recently, thanks to the efforts of organisations such as TechUK and Bright Network - who have been driving the conversation around diversity in technology - it has also been used to increase hiring of underrepresented groups such as women and Black heritage individuals. A vital step, as groups that are underrepresented in technology are significantly less likely to consider studying computer science at university.
However, despite its strengths, RTD is not the answer to the long-term change in the industry. This is due its design as a solution to close short-term skills gaps. The result is that businesses focus too heavily on deployment of consultants, with little focus on truly embedding them into organisations. In turn, lowering retention rates and slowing progress towards the long-term change businesses want to drive in their teams.
The answer to this is to shift towards focusing on acquisition, instead of deployment. Shifting us from RTD, to Recruit, Train, Acquire (RTA). In doing so, we move the focus of our programmes to the long-term integration of consultants into our workforce, creating more value for both our businesses and the consultants we hire through RTA.
Below, we explore three key benefits of shifting from Recruit Train Deploy, to Recruit Train Acquire.
Driving long-term change in diversity
The tech industry has long been grappling with diversity challenges, with female and Black technologists being most significantly underrepresented. Women represent just 19% of the tech workforce (vs. 51% of the UK population), while just 2% of technologists in the UK are Black (vs. 8% of the UK population). Two key factors in this underrepresentation are a lack of opportunity and low visibility of female and Black technologists.
Recruit, Train, Deploy has begun to make headway here. Creating opportunity where it previously was not by creating a new pathway for underrepresented groups to enter the sector. However, RTD has yet to show that it can be relied on for long-term change. This can be seen in the lack of progression for people from diverse backgrounds. Just 52 women for every 100 men working in tech are promoted, while only 3% of C-Suite executives are Black according to research by McKinsey.
By shifting the focus to acquisition we make two key changes that will help to drive long-term change in diversity and inclusion. Firstly, it creates a pathway that has a demonstrable impact on a business’s diversity landscape. And secondly, because it solves the ongoing issue of poor visibility of these individuals due to a lack of representation at each level of a business. Consultant acquisition creates a ripple effect, inspiring other underrepresented individuals to pursue careers in technology, thereby breaking down systemic barriers.
Supporting consultants through Learning and development
One of the central tenets of the RTD approach is training, which provides consultants with the skills they need to succeed in their roles. Showing the ability of high potential individuals to build the knowledge they need to have impact in a technology team in short time frames. However, too often the focus on guided learning ends once a consultant has been deployed, with many consultants in businesses reporting a sink or swim culture once they have been deployed. This can result in stagnation, reduced effectiveness in role, decreased morale and in turn a drop in retention, as consultants are forced to consider positions that will support them with their long-term career goals.
By focusing on acquisition, organisations can move away from these issues. Shifting the conversation to one around continuous learning and development. In turn allowing you to shape the development pathways of your consultants to best fit your organisation while showing your commitment to their long-term career progression. Such support not only enhances the abilities of your consultants, but also increases retention rates as L&D opportunities are often cited as one of the top reasons that employees will stay at a business.
Creating a sense of community
Finally, there is the often-overlooked area of culture. As with the other areas discussed in this article, it is often overlooked because consultants are seen as a contingent workforce. However, the impact of culture on productivity cannot be overlooked, with research finding that companies with winning organisational culture have 72% higher employee engagement rate. This is because strong culture promotes collaboration and knowledge sharing while increasing overall employee wellbeing.
By focusing on acquisition, instead of deployment, organisations can harness the power of culture. Embedding consultants both within their tech teams and beyond, creating a sense of community and belonging. This focus on culture will also promote more creative and innovative thinking, as consultants will feel more able to contribute their perspective to projects. The benefits also extend to your wider technology team, as long-term plans to keep consultants beyond their initial contract allow you to foster a more stable and sustainable culture that fully integrates all members of the team and creates a sense of shared purpose.
Recruit, Train, Acquire: A transformative shift to deliver the future of tech
The evolution from Recruit, Train, Deploy to Recruit, Train, Acquire represents a transformative shift in how organisations both view and build diverse technology teams. To achieve this necessary shift, it will require an industry-wide change in opinion as well as evolution from providers to support businesses to deliver on this new approach. Making this change not just an essential one for businesses, but for the industry as a whole.
In doing so, we will open the industry up to talented individuals that don’t currently feel they have a space in the sector. Sending a clear message about technology’s commitment to long-term change and putting down the ladder that has been pulled up on them for so long.
At Bright Network Technology Academy, we’ve already seen the power of the shift to RTA. 55% of our consultants are female, while over 18% are Black. Showing that a commitment to diversity and inclusion and longer-term career opportunities has the power to attract underrepresented groups back to the industry. Meanwhile, our partners that have embraced this new model for growth have seen the benefits as well, driving culture change in their organisations and achieving retention rates of 90%.