Fear and Greed Podcast Interview: With tech layoffs galore, what's the outlook for IT jobs?
By Jon Lang | March 2, 2023
The tech sector has been hit hard by a downturn post-COVID, with many companies forced to cut roles. But for much of the IT space, the employment outlook is actually quite promising.
Where are the employment opportunities in the #tech space? Do tech workers need to re-skill? Lumify Work CEO Jon Lang talks to Sean Aylmer from the Fear and Greed podcast about where the jobs are right now, and the key areas of demand in the future.
Listen to the podcast here. You can also read the transcript below.
Fear and Greed Transcript
Welcome to the Fear and Greed Daily Interview. I'm Sean Aylmer. One of the big features of the last 18 months has been a chronic shortage of workers. This goes across pretty much all industries, but one forecasting big future shortfalls is the tech sector. My guest today knows this space well, running the largest information and communications technology training company in Australasia. Jon Lang is the CEO of Lumify Group. Jon, welcome to Fear and Greed.
Thanks, Sean. Thanks for having me today.
Now, there was a lot of talk last year about the need for workers in the tech space. Then when you read all these stories about the big US tech players, you've seen all these layoffs coming, but I presume there's a difference here between engineering/ coding experts and others? Is that why there's this dichotomy at the moment?
Look, it's a great question because it's interesting. Over the recent weeks, there's been a lot of media out there, whether they're highlighting the redundancies and the layoffs in big US firms, whether it's your Microsoft, whether it's Google, Facebook, whoever it is. I've had numerous calls and actually staff team members come up to me thinking, what's going on? We're in the IT space. Does that directly correlate to us? And interestingly, it's actually, there's a couple of things that are really driving that, and a lot of the time it's that mismatch of skills. So it's actually a lot of those businesses are still looking for people, but it's a misalignment of skills. As you highlighted, some of those technical areas that they really focus on and those areas that, in fact, a lot of those redundancies have happened. Some of those other ones have been simply people that they've hired. There's one particular vendor in particular that the vast majority of their redundancies were in an area that was only hired over the last 12 months. However, what we're seeing is a lot of those customers are actually looking still for a lot of talent, but it's that skillset that they don't currently have with the people that have moved on. So for me, the biggest thing is there's an assumption that because these large tech vendors are making the redundancies and cutbacks that the tech industry's in trouble. It's far from that. In fact, it is just the misalignment of talent and the skills that currently people have is simply not meeting the needs of the skills that the vendors and the large IT businesses currently need and want for the future.
Okay. So what are those skills?
So there's a lot, and across our group, within the Lumify Group, we do have circa 30 different categories that we're able to look after. But what we're definitely seeing is clearly cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is an area, I don't have the statistic to confirm this, but I would be very, very surprised if any of the redundancies or the layoffs or the cutbacks we talk of are a reduction in the cybersecurity team. What we're hearing within Australia, remembering that, let's just say of the ASX 200, 98% of them are our customers, they are all yelling out for cyber talent. So there is no doubt that cyber skills is one of the biggest areas. We know it's forecast to have tens of thousands of new jobs over the next few years. We're constantly hearing about that as being the skills shortage, I would say biggest contributor to the crisis we hear of in the tech skills. So I would definitely lean towards cyber is the main skillset that is in high demand. But we are also seeing, which I also find quite interesting, is a demand for cloud skills. Now, it's interesting, a lot of people think, oh, come on, we're in 2023. Surely everyone's moved to the cloud now. Interestingly enough, a vast majority of large enterprise businesses, not only just in Australia but globally, still have what you'd call on- prem technology. So interestingly, and this is, I would have to call it out, something I didn't see was going to happen is simply the demand for cloud skills is also on the rise. So I'd probably flag those two as the two main areas.
So when we talk about this, and we'll take cybersecurity as an example, what sort of training, what sort of skills are you talking about? It's beyond help desk skills presumably. What is it?
So we have a whole team of cybersecurity experts within Lumify Group, and that's because you rightfully just called out it is not just one skillset, it is not just everyone does a course on email scams or phishing. There is a lot more to it. It's not dissimilar to, let's just say the medical industry where you can go in specialties. There at the moment is this assumption that if you become a cybersecurity expert, you're across everything. That's clearly not the case. You mentioned the first one, help desk, we call that awareness training. That awareness training, it is irrelevant what your position is in the business, whether you are the CEO or you are the person that meets clients as they enter the building such as a receptionist or you're a salesperson. That awareness training, it's critical and it affects everyone. But as you move into the technical aspects, which you just flagged, you've got lots of different specialties. You've got network security experts, you've got cloud security experts, you've got penetration testing experts. We would have the better part of 50 to 100 different certifications that cover the cybersecurity range. So it's very technical and I'm not a technical expert on everything with cybersecurity because it is a very complicated landscape.
Stay with me, Jon, and we'll be back in a minute. I am speaking to Jon Lang, Chief Executive Officer of Lumify Group. The other thing is, when we talk about qualifications, so it's kind of not quite a structured cybersecurity or the tech industry as law or doc medicine or something like that, but there are some sort of recognized certifications in the industry, CompTIA, these sorts of things which people do take with high regard. Is that how it works?
Absolutely. The way I would explain it is there are two sides. You've got accreditation and then you've got certification. Accreditation is everything from your TAFEs or your registered training organizations, and they start at your Cert 1 Level, and then you can go through to, as you said, doctrines, et cetera, or universities and bachelor degrees, et cetera. What they are is they're nationally recognized qualifications. Interestingly, one of our most popular courses, which has only just come out is the Cert IV in Cyber Security. That's an accreditation. So that is only nationally recognized. What you then move across to is the other side of the coin, and I personally believe it is the most valuable side of the coin, and that is the certifications. Now, those certifications are the likes of CompTIA, you mentioned, there are plenty of other vendors out there, which is where it gets complicated because there isn't one source of truth. There is not one vendor that you go to for everything. You would have vendors that cover everything, but what we find with customers is they've got specific technology needs. The interesting part of the certification path, which differs from qualifications is CompTIA, as the example you've used, it's actually internationally recognized. So, if you have a CompTIA certification, that is recognized all around the world.
One thing about this, and I mean I have to actually, I've got a disclaimer here because I do have an interest in a cyber training company, which is kind of why I know about CompTIA and stuff like that. But one thing I think is of interest is that it's amazing the range of people that can actually learn these skills, I think is what I'm saying. So if you're re- skilling, retraining whoever you've got in your head as the typical person to go and do that, isn't necessarily the typical person who goes and does that.
Absolutely, and the thing is, it has a pathway. CompTIA is a fantastic example of a vendor that's got great pathway. So depending on the reason for you doing that course, whether it's re- skilling, whether you're a new entrant into that area, whether it's just widening your knowledge, whatever that reason is or which area of cybersecurity, there is going to be a pathway. Some are mapped out better and clearer to understand than other vendors, but ultimately what you can look at is the reason you're training, and the biggest component which you should always ask yourself when it comes to training is what's the outcome I'm looking to achieve? Because that ultimately will help you determine which qualification, which certification, and then which certification with which vendor you want. You should always look at what is the outcome? Why am I doing this? What do I hope to achieve at the end? And then you should be able to look at any vendor, the certification that you choose, and make sure that they're mapped and make sure that if I complete that certification. Irrelevant whether you choose Lumify as your choice or the training provider you work with as well, to me, it is just making sure that the person attending that training is ensuring that the outcome they were hoping to achieve is aligned to what that certification promises to offer.
And, as you said, there are tens of thousands of potential jobs out there, so training is certainly a massive need. What about when it comes... I suppose I'm shifting to leadership a little bit here. One of the challenge of course in Australia is to get a diversity of people in the area, gender being only one part of that, it's much broader than that. How important is it for leaders, not just tech leaders, but business leaders to really grab hold of this and run with it to actually make it something that people want to do?
I love the fact you've brought that up. One of the things that I always highlight when it comes to the leadership side of things, whether it's a customer that's running, an IT manager or a CTO that's running a big IT team, whether it's a leader of a training business or whatever that might be, surround yourself with diversity. Now, absolutely, and I agree that word diversity usually spearheads into a conversation about gender diversity, which is absolutely a contributing part, but I'd also flag two other areas. I would say diversity in the style of the people you're surrounding yourselves, but also a diversity of the skills. Every leadership group, whether you are the CEO and you have a leadership team that supports you, what you want to make sure is you're moving away from a tech conversation, you haven't only got people with financial skills. You want to make sure that you have a nice diverse collection of skills, and that's the same as cybersecurity or that's the same as any CTO. Cybersecurity is only one area that you need to make sure you have covered. So my suggestion and something that I really focus on in any decision that I'm a part of is making sure I'm surrounding myself with diverse views, diverse backgrounds, because it really helps you challenge the way of thinking that maybe you were planning on going down. And it allows you just to consider other opinions, other views on something that you might have thought was only one option.
Jon, thank you for talking to Fear and Greed.
That was Jon Lang, CEO of Lumify Group. This is the Fear and Greed Daily Interview. Join us every morning for the full episode of Fear and Greed, Australia's most popular business podcast. I'm Sean Aylmer. Enjoy your day.
Skilling for Tech Jobs with Lumify
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