Skilled talent is the essential ingredient necessary to turn new ideas into viable products and services, and to effectively identify and cultivate markets for those new products and services. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs across the country frequently report that they have the jobs – and need to fill those jobs in order to survive and grow – but are unable to find sufficient numbers of candidates with the required skills.
“We’re in the fortunate situation where we’re experiencing a lot of growth – the company’s doubled in size in six months,” Chad Bockius, CEO of Austin-based Socialware, told us. “The biggest concern I have is getting the talent I need. I have the jobs – I just don’t have the talent to fill them.”
In addition to general skill deficiencies, entrepreneurs specifically cite a severe national shortage of graduates with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – or STEM. “There’s just not enough engineering talent to go around,” Siobhan Quinn, a former software engineer at Google and currently a product manager at New York-based Foursquare, told us. “There are a lot of great ideas, but just not enough people to build them.”
While the skilled talent shortage is not unique to start-ups, new businesses are hit particularly hard. Talent and brain power are start-ups’ most valuable assets. Without access to high-skilled employees, even great ideas can, and often do, fail as viable businesses. Moreover, the shoestring circumstances of most start-ups during the initial years typically mean that new businesses can’t afford the training programs necessary to turn high-potential employees into high-value employees. Also, as the scarcity of skilled talent has driven up the price with regard to salaries and benefits, many cash-challenged start-ups simply can’t compete.