Is There Really An RPA Skills Shortage?

A linup of unemployed or under-employed RPA consultants looking for work in Robotic Process Automation with their newly acquired RPA training skills

Is There Really An RPA Skills Shortage?

Most blog postings give an opinion. But none of us know everything.

Below is what I see.

If anyone else has a different perspective I’d love to hear it.

Especially from companies that are hiring in the RPA space.

Should I change my response?

What would you advise?

The most common question I get asked by potential students is
“Will this RPA training get me a job?” – or variations thereof.

On the flip side, I get 5-10 calls a day from random recruiters saying “I work with BIGNAMEBRAND and we need 5 RPA developers with 3 years experience in ZZZ platform. Full time or contract work. Are you available?”

To explain the issue – for both sides – let me give a bit of market context.

  • RPA is still in the early days.
  • Yes, companies like Blue Prism and Automation Anywhere have been in existence for a long time. But no one was really buying their products until 2-3 years ago.
  • In the US, it is more recent than that.

So, if there are developers with 3 years experience out there, they are not that many of them. Plus they are either super-expensive (and justifiably so) or incredibly entrenched in their own organisation’s journey and just not interested in leaving.

And this is just the early days. What I refer to as the “1% position”:

  • No matter how busy the market is, only about 1% (at the most) of organisations are doing anything with RPA.
  • Those 1%, they are only using RPA to about 1% of its potential (e.g. part of the Finance function, certainly not wholesale across all functions, across the whole organisation)
  • The technology is probably only at 1% of its ultimate capabilities.
  • And those early adopting organisations are probably only 1% prepared for the real change ahead – but that’s another story

So, if there is a skills shortage now, we ain’t seen nothing yet.

I’ve pitched The RPA Academy to a number of recruiters. The concept is that we would help them access the pool of trained RPA resources coming out of our RPA Academy. They would help us market to their existing candidate database.

The responses have been depressing – with one or two exceptions. Most just want to fill the current position as fast as possible. [Note – I don’t ever bring up the fact that the job of recruiter will not exist in the foreseeable future.]

So, to students asking the question about “will I get a job”, my honest answer is as follows:

  1. I really don’t know but can advise you on what I see
  2. There is already an under-supply of candidates with the DREAM qualifications – the background, the skills, the training AND the experience
  3. So, if you present yourself as having the background, skills, and training – just not the experience – you are in a strong position
  4. Plus – the fact that you have demonstrated your commitment AND enthusiasm for the RPA space by investing in your own personal development, any employer should be keen to talk with you.
  5. Employers in this space recognise the skills shortage. If you are coming to them trained, then that saves them having to train you.

So, while it is impossible to guarantee a job, the fact that you are even investigating RPA training on your own initiative puts you in an incredibly strong position.
And – the chances are – you will know more than the person interviewing you.
What I don’t mention is our plans around building an RPA community, so that people who are starting their first RPA job or project feel like they have people they can reach out to in order to get support.


What should I really be saying?

Edward Brooks, Founder, The RPA Academy