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4 Ways Technology can Help Higher Education Overcome Talent Shortages

Tech recruitment is the most difficult job in higher education at the moment. Not convinced? Hear me out.

The whole world is currently battling the so-called “Great Resignation”. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are almost 17 million open positions in the US alone. But this is not a new problem when it comes to hiring great tech talent. For more than a decade, CEOs and CIOs across every industry have been struggling to find the right tech hires. In fact, according to a global PwC report, as far back as 2008, business leaders were having difficulty finding tech-savvy talent at ‘every level of the hierarchy’.

In 2019, just before the pandemic hit, a whopping 79% of CEOs listed the tech talent shortage as the main threat to future growth. When the world went into lockdown, from March 2020 onwards, organizations around the world sought to turbocharge their digital transformation strategies – and the talent pool drain officially became a talent drought.

Steve Morgan

Written by

Steve Morgan
Managing Director USA - Squiz
18 January 2022

The higher ed ‘brain drain’

When lockdown measures were first introduced, an estimated 14 million students across the US were left unable to physically attend classes. In the aftermath, tech leaders were faced with the mammoth task of transforming college and university offerings and experiences to digital-first, overnight… and finding the skills and expertise to deliver.

The race to meet post-lockdown digital expectations has highlighted a massive shortage in website developers (39%) – the exact skill set that universities and colleges need to build out new digital services and student experiences. As the brain drain continues, competition is set to increase, with web developers predicted to become one of the most in-demand tech roles by 2029.

In this hyper-competitive environment, higher education institutions are going toe-to-toe against large, corporate brands – with enticing remuneration packages – in the battle to fill crucial tech roles… and lose.

Making matters worse, ‘The Great Resignation’ means that holding onto your precious tech staff – if and when you finally hire them – is even tougher than ever, with eight in ten digital leaders saying retention is now harder than before the pandemic.

Time to tackle the tech talent shortage

For CTOs and digital leaders in higher education, for whom trying to do more with less (budgets, time and staff) has become a way of life, all of this may sound depressingly familiar. But now is NOT the time to accept the status quo. If anything, delivering on digital strategies is more crucial than ever, with greater demand for remote learning, higher than ever student expectations (particularly their digital experiences) and institutions that successfully harness technology reaping impressive enrollment rates and cost savings.

From developer-dependence to provider partnerships

With no resolution in sight, it’s time for higher education CTOs to adopt a different approach to overcoming the tech talent shortage. The answer is simple: if you can’t hire experts to help deliver your digital strategies, choose technologies that don’t require expertise. As new technologies enter the market on a weekly basis, many of which require a specific set of skills, it’s time for CTOs to choose user-friendly solutions that can ease, not add to, resourcing issues. Strategies that can significantly enhance the student digital experience, such as website personalization, are easily achievable, requiring little input from tech teams – with the right technology.

Working with the right provider can help higher education institutions to deliver better, personalized student experiences, without relying on niche developer expertise.

Four traits to look for in your tech provider

  1. No code/low code applications 

    By selecting a low code or no-code solution, CTOs can simultaneously minimize the need to hire developers with specific code expertise and delegate more tasks to non-technical staff. Low code web personalization tools, such as the Squiz DXP suite of solutions, enable users with basic web skills to build integrations, set up simple web personalization and develop and track marketing efforts.

  2. Familiar and intuitive platforms 

    Opting for solutions with an intuitive or familiar user interface will enable your non-technical users to hit the ground running and take ownership of web tasks with confidence. With less reliance on tech team members for support on day-to-day updates, CTOs will be able to allocate more time and resources into tackling strategic, longer-term website and IT projects.

  3. Platforms designed specifically for higher education

    Technologies designed to meet the unique challenges of higher education will enable your team to take advantage of out-of-the-box tools and templates, further reducing the need to build website integrations, pages and services from scratch.

  4. Software that offers sought-after capabilities

    Choosing a solution that offers in-demand capabilities, the key to delivering on your institution’s digital roadmap is one of the few ways to ‘futureproof’ your tech investment. Squiz Funnelback, for example, enables institutions to streamline their search offering, personalize the student experience and view real-time marketing insights – all via a simple UI that empowers non-tech staff to take ownership of the website.

Don’t let the tech talent shortage hold you back

With web developers set to become even more in-demand by 2029, taking a new approach to your tech investments today will enable you to deliver on your institution’s future digital goals. Instead of wading through an ever-shrinking talent pool to keep projects progressing, opting for user-friendly platforms with sought-after capabilities can help spread workloads across teams and kickstart your digital strategies.


If you’d like to learn more about how Squiz can help to ease the burden on IT teams while delivering better student experiences, check out our latest capabilities for higher education or request a demo today.

  1. Talent trends 2019: Upskilling for a digital world, PwC, 2019  
  2. How Coronavirus Dramatically Changed College for Over 14 Million Students, CNBC, March 2020
  3. Digital Leadership Report 2021, Harvey Nash Group, 2021
  4. Web Developers and Digital Designers: Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nov 2021
  5. Harvey Nash Group, 2021
  6. Half of All College Students Take Online Courses, Inside Higher ED, (Oct 2021)
  7. 8 Reasons This Coming Year Could Be The Hardest Yet for Higher Ed, Forbes, July 2021 
  8. The Pandemic Pushed Universities Online. The Change Was Long Overdue., Harvard Business Review, (Sept, 2020)
  9. Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (2020)

Steve Morgan

Written by

Steve Morgan
Managing Director USA - Squiz
18 January 2022

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