MSPs: How to Bridge the IT Talent Gap in a Tight Labor Market


If you’re a managed service provider (MSP) looking to hire tech talent, you’re facing a perfect storm. MSPs are experiencing a sudden surge in demand for digital client services thanks to the pandemic and the many changes it produced. At the same time, recruiting—and retaining—IT pros is more challenging than ever.

The IEEE global study, The Impact of Tech in 2022, revealed that 73 percent of IT leaders find recruiting technologists and filling open tech positions to be very or somewhat challenging. And recent workplace trends like “quiet quitting” and the “Great Resignation” have only worsened matters. The study notes that technology leaders agree—97 percent was the exact percentage—that their teams are working more closely than ever before with human resources to overcome these obstacles.

A Gartner global survey of 18,000 employees found that only 29.1 percent of IT workers have high intent to stay with their current employer. This talent shortage is a problem across every aspect of IT, including cybersecurity. While cyberattacks are increasing—global cyberattacks jumped 125 percent in 2021, according to the World Economic Forum—the number of qualified professionals who can lead the fight against these attacks isn’t.

SMBs: A Big Target With Fewer Resources

Most of these attacks target small businesses. SMBs are three times more likely to be attacked than large organizations. And small businesses face more significant challenges in attracting and retaining cybersecurity professionals because they can’t pay as much and offer fewer opportunities for advancement.

To overcome these obstacles, many SMBs are turning to managed service providers (MSPs) because they can provide the resources necessary to tackle the IT and cybersecurity challenges small businesses face.

Three Crucial Steps MSPs Should Take in This Tight Labor Market

In response, MSPs are pushing hard to beef up their operations to help their customers deal with this global IT expertise shortage. But they aren’t always succeeding as they face off against international tech firms fishing in the same talent pool. And retaining staff isn’t easy, either.

If you’re an MSP, ensuring your success now hinges on one crucial component: hiring and keeping good people. With that in mind, here are three ways to win the battle and attract and retain top IT talent.

1. Invest in Training and Upskilling

As an MSP, you need people with specialized IT skills. If you can’t find them, create them yourself. Empowering your existing employees with training that enables them to meet your IT skills needs is a win-win because employees appreciate opportunities for career advancement. Many employees value these opportunities more than salary increases because they recognize that it makes them more attractive to employers.

The good news is that you have many options for helping your employees expand their skills and enhance their knowledge. These include offering training and certifications from your partners. As an MSP, you should seek out vendors that offer these programs to upskill your IT team, deliver better customer experiences, and differentiate your company from your competitors.

2. Make Stress Reduction a Priority

Anyone who has ever worked in IT gets it. It’s a high-pressure, always-on industry. In fact, according to a study by VMware, 69 percent of IT and security professionals say stress and burnout have led them to consider leaving their positions.

That’s why it’s essential to stay tuned in to how your IT team is doing. Tired, stressed-out people don’t perform optimally. Ensure they aren’t working excessive hours and will feel comfortable telling you if they feel overwhelmed. Make a work-life balance part of your IT culture. Letting people work from home—at least part of the time—can help by offering the flexibility to let people live their lives without their job becoming a burden that is no longer worth carrying. For those working in the office, a comfortable, functional environment goes a long way toward keeping employees happy and productive.

3. Elevate Exceptional Employees

There is no replacement for positive reinforcement. We all love being told we’re doing a great job. It keeps us engaged and motivates us to keep improving. That’s why it’s important to recognize your team’s—and individual—contributions and accomplishments. When you openly celebrate and compliment your team or a team member, you build stronger bonds within your group.

Don’t hesitate to send an email or group message announcing celebration events. An annual virtual (or even in-person) awards ceremony is also worth considering. Your team will know it is valued no matter what approach you take. These ideas are a starting point. Some companies award additional PTO for a job well done, while others go so far as to give stock or equity in the company as a reward.

MSPs: Winning the Talent War

Hiring is crucial to your ongoing success and ability to grow your MSP. Focus on training, supporting, incentivizing, and celebrating your employees. As your reputation spreads, you’ll not only attract more—and better—talent, you’ll also grow a happier, more loyal, and more productive team.

Learn more about the Arcserve MSP partner success program and how we can help you take your business to the next level.