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The talent market for the digitally skilled in iGaming has always been a challenge: a controversial public image alongside and a stubborn refusal to embrace change for some has hindered the industry for years. The impact of the pandemic has significantly increased the need for more technical skills as more industry stakeholders look for digital solutions to align themselves with current consumer trends. Some industry commentators believe that the answer is to move out of iGaming’s comfort zone, broaden its reach and embrace a more diverse workforce. This, perhaps, will bring about its own unique benefits, better products and an even more innovative future.
We spoke with Robin MacDonald, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at leading talent provider, Rubik, to hear his thoughts on the current digital talent gap in our industry and how putting more focus on underrepresented groups can push our industry forward in more ways than we might imagine.
What impact did the pandemic have on the demand for digitally skilled talent; specifically, within the iGaming industry?
“In the short term, the pandemic has hurt industries built of bricks and mortar and provided an opportunity to those experiencing digital adoption or transformation. iGaming moved their customers from the high street to their smartphones. Our business partners at Pentasia have seen a 3x increase in demand for digital skills during this time.
“Casinos have also invested in land-based operations through technology; I’m thinking specifically of mobile development where customers can now interact with the casino through multiple touchpoints – not just at the tables. Customers returning to the tables will see their experience transformed. So too have cashless technology operations, in land-based operations, with contactless become increasingly used instead of cash.
“There are other factors at play including liberalising legislation for sports betting in the US and other jurisdictions. This has sparked a large boom in demand for iGaming technology. The growth of esports has also gained momentum and so has blockchain and crypto casinos.
“All this is to say, there is significantly more demand for technology skills.”
How can iGaming stakeholders ensure they are improving engagement with underrepresented groups in their recruitment campaigns? What are the benefits of having a stronger diversity and inclusion focus when sourcing iGaming talent?
“There is no silver bullet to solve the diversity problem within the industry.
“Engaging with candidates from underrepresented groups means working in different ways and with different groups to help change the iGaming industry for the better. One problem we see is companies hiring from their competitors. Sure, those with iGaming experience is important but you cannot add skills to the industry this way. You have to reach out of your comfort zone, develop relationships and upskill new entrants to the industry.
“At Rubik, we’re building an eco-system of partner organisations whose members are from underrepresented groups. Further, we are educating industry skills in partnership with the iGaming Academy and technology skills through the Rubik Academy for Full Stack Software Development and Data Engineering.
“In regard to benefits – these are numerous and will help iGaming companies develop better products. A diverse workforce means interpreting business requirements in a different way and therefore developing a different product solution that will appeal to a wider audience. We want our clients’ teams to better reflect society as a whole. ”
Finding fresh, new digital talent is a mounting challenge, especially when operating in the highly competitive iGaming sector. How can iGaming companies better source new junior talent to develop? Is this the best strategy for bridging the talent gap?
“The move to remote provides companies with a significant opportunity to expand their reach in terms of who they bring on board. But this comes with challenges and responsibility.
“Sourcing is the first part of any well-developed talent strategy. At Rubik, for example, we work closely with clients to understand technical skills gaps and where junior developers and engineers will be best suited. Their learning curve is steep so they can take on responsibility quickly.
“We also help tell our clients story to thousands of candidates via our partner eco-system showcasing the new technologies they can learn and teams they can join. Our partnership with Xuntos – a student founded organisation – focussed on developing skills of those from underrepresented groups is a good example of this.
“Education and skill development is next: The Rubik Academy equips our graduate trainees with industry education for iGaming, Full Stack Software Development at the and professional skills like best remote working practices.
“By providing trainees with real world, industry focussed skills ensures they take a significant step up from their university education. This provides our clients with real ease of integration and consultants add value immediately.
“Yes, ‘finding’ talented individuals is important but the real impact is in how the industry educates and develops people over years. This is where employers will see real value.”
iGaming companies are under constant pressure to stay ahead of the curve, embracing new technologies and processes to stay competitive. The continuous search for talent to help support this expansion costs time, money and other vital company resources. How can industry stakeholders work with third parties like Rubik to help reduce these costs in the future?
“Our clients are very good at what they do – building technology. However, the iGaming industry is lagging behind in two key areas: promoting diversity in technology and developing net new skills.
“Further, the cost of a ‘wrong hire’ is around $15k USD plus the time and resources of team members.
“At Rubik, we are helping to ease the process of change by providing access to skills from the grassroots. We embed newly educated talent into existing technology teams and support them over the long term, eventually allowing them to move to a permanent role with the client.
“Historically, we’ve seen retention rates north of 80%. This is huge compared to traditional recruitment. Further, the new skills from underrepresented groups will bring new insights to that new technology. In the long run, the client will have a better product for a wider audience.”
Editor’s Note: From catching up with Robin, it’s clear that there’s still progress to be made when attracting the best digital talent to our industry, especially from underrepresented groups.
It’s encouraging to know that there’s already strong iGaming talent out there, however, our industry will see the most value when we bring newly educated talent into existing technology teams and develop them over the longer terms.
This is where iGaming companies will see the biggest return on investment and, with the continued emergence of companies like Rubik, we hope this trend will be adopted industry-wide in the future.