The War of Talents in Software Business

Polarisation of the Software Labour Force?
  • Sonja M. Hyrynsalmi
  • Minna M. Rantanen
  • Sami HyrynsalmiEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 907)


The modern business world is undergoing digitalisation in fast pace and, therefore, more jobs are born in the field of information and communication technology (ICT). Only in Finland, one of the leading countries in digitalisation, there is an estimated need for 7,000–15,000 software professionals while the demand for skilled labour is growing every year. The skill set required from professionals is also changing and different skills are needed in the future. ICT companies are facing problems of finding highly skilled professionals to ensure their rapid growth and new innovations. At the same time, when companies are fighting for the talents, there are ICT professionals unemployed. Offered and requested skills are not meeting in the ICT industry, which can lead to bigger problems in the eyes of workers and companies. This study focuses on the skill polarisation between software professionals at the war of talents by using data collected with a survey (n = 90) to software businesses. The results reveal some signs of ongoing skill polarisation in the field and its possible impacts are discussed.


Software business Skill Competence Skill polarisation War for talents 



The authors wish to thanks Managing Director Rasmus Roiha and Finnish Software Industry & Entrepreneurs Association for sharing the dataset used in this study.


  1. 1.
    Schwab, K.: The fourth industrial revolution. Foreign Affairs, January 2018. Accessed 23 Jan 2018
  2. 2.
    Hermann, M., Pentek, T., Otto, B.: Design principles for industrie 4.0 scenarios. In: 2016 49th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), pp. 3928–3937 (2016).
  3. 3.
    OECD: New markets and new jobs. In: OECD Digital Economy Papers, No. 255. OECD Publishing (2016).
  4. 4.
    World Economic Forum: The future of jobs: employment, skills and workforce strategy for fourth industrial revolution. Global Challenge Insight report, World Economic Forum, Geneva, Switzerland (2016)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE): Women and men in ICT: a chance for better work-life balance (2018). Accessed 8 Apr 2018
  6. 6.
  7. 7.
    Luoma, E., Rönkkö, M., Tahvanainen, S.: Ohjelmistoyrityskartoitus 2017 (Finnish software industry survey 2017) (2017). Accessed 23 Jan 2018
  8. 8.
    Tieto- ja viestinttekniikan ammattilaiset TIVIA ry: Ohjelmisto-osaaminen Suomen talouskasvun ja uudistumisen jarruna - vuonna 2020 Suomesta puuttuu 15 000 ohjelmistoammattilaista (2017, press release).
  9. 9.
    Naumanen, M., et al.: Tekbaro 2017. Tekniikan akateemiset TEK, Helsinki (2017)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hyrynsalmi, S.M., Rantanen, M.M., Hyrynsalmi, S.: The war for talents in software business: how Finnish software companies are perceiving and coping with the labour shortage? (2018, manuscript in review)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hyrynsalmi, S.M., Rantanen, M.M., Hyrynsalmi, S.: Do we have what is needed to change everything? A survey of Finnish software businesses on labour shortage and its potential impacts. In: Proceedings of 13th IFIP TC9 Human Choice and Computers Conference: “This Changes Everything", pp. 1–12 (2018)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Katz, L.F., Margo, R.A.: Technical change and the relative demand for skilled labor: the United States in historical perspective. Working Paper 18752, National Bureau of Economic Research, February 2013.
  13. 13.
    Frey, C.B., Osborne, M.A.: The future of employment: how susceptible are jobs to computerisation? Technol. Forecast. Soc. Change 114, 254–280 (2017). Scholar
  14. 14.
    Falk, M., Biagi, F.: Relative demand for highly skilled workers and use of different ICT technologies. Appl. Econ. 49(9), 903–914 (2017). Scholar
  15. 15.
    Becker, S.O., Muendler, M.A.: Trade and tasks: an exploration over three decades in Germany. Econ. Policy 30(84), 589–641 (2015). Scholar
  16. 16.
    Spiezia, V.: Jobs and Skills in the Digital Economy. OECD Observer (2016)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Chambers, E.G., Foulon, M., Handfield-Jones, H., Hankin, S.M., Michaels, E.G.I.: The war for talent. McKinsey Q. 1(3), 44–57 (1998)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Beechler, S., Woodward, I.C.: The global ‘war for talent’. J. Int. Manag. 15(3), 273–285 (2009). The Emerging CEO Agenda in Multinational CompaniesCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    European Commission: The Digital Single Market - State of Play. European Union (2017).
  20. 20.
    Berger, T., Frey, C.B.: Digitalization, jobs and convergence in Europe: strategies for closing the skills gap. Technical report, University of Oxford (2016)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Mahroum, S.: Europe and the immigration of highly skilled labour. Int. Migr. 39(5), 27–43 (2001). Scholar
  22. 22.
    Lehner, F., Sundby, M.W.: ICT skills and competencies for SMEs: results from a structured literature analysis on the individual level. In: Harteis, C. (ed.) The Impact of Digitalization in the Workplace. PPL, vol. 21, pp. 55–69. Springer, Cham (2018). Scholar
  23. 23.
    Chaloff, J., Lematre, G.: Managing highly-skilled labour migration - a comparative analysis of migration policies and challenges in OECD countries. OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 79 (2009).
  24. 24.
    Bauer, T.K., Kunze, A.: The demand for high-skilled workers and immigration policy. IZA Discussion Paper No. 999, RWI: Discussion Papers No. 11 (2004)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Chakravorti, B., Bhalla, A., Chaturvedi, R.S.: 60 Countries’ Digital Competitiveness, Indexed. Harvard Business Review, Watertown (2017)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Haaparanta, P., et al.: 100 vuotta pientä avotaloutta - Suomen ulkomaankaupan kehitys, merkitys ja näkymät. Technical report, Valtioneuvoston selvitys- tutkimustoiminta (2017)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Goos, M., Manning, A.: Lousy and lovely jobs: the rising polarization of work in Britain. Rev. Econ. Stat. 89(1), 118–133 (2007). Scholar
  28. 28.
    Bluestone, B., Harrison, B.: The growth of low-wage employment: 1963–86. Am. Econ. Rev. 78(2), 124–128 (1988)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Bluestone, B.: The Polarization of American Society: Victims, Suspects, and Mysteries to Unravel. Twentieth Century Fund Press, New York (1995)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Autor, D.H., Katz, L.F., Kearney, M.S.: The polarization of the U.S. labor market. Am. Econ. Rev. 96(2), 189–194 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Autor, D.: The Polarization of Job Opportunities in the U.S. Labor Market: Implications for Employment and Earnings. The Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C. (2010)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Goos, M., Manning, A., Salomons, A.: Explaining job polarization: routine-biased technological change and offshoring. Am. Econ. Rev. 104(8), 2509–2526 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Autor, D.H., Levy, F., Murnane, R.J.: The skill content of recent technological change: an empirical exploration. Q. J. Econ. 118(4), 1279–1333 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Abel, J.R., Deitz, R.: Job polarization and rising inequality in the nation and the New York-northern New Jersey region. Curr. Issues Econ. Finan. 18(7), 1–7 (2012)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Terzidis, N., van Maarseveen, R., Ortega-Argilés, R.: Employment polarization in local labour markets: the dutch case. Technical report 358, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (2017)Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Dillman, D.A.: Mail and Internet Surveys: The Tailored Design Method. Wiley, New York (2007)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Braun, V., Clarke, V.: Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qual. Res. Psychol. 3, 77–101 (2006).

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TurkuTurkuFinland
  2. 2.Turku School of EconomicsUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  3. 3.Pervasive ComputingTampere University of TechnologyPoriFinland

Personalised recommendations