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Why is hiring qualified and experienced firmware developers so hard?

Is your embedded software developer really a firmware specialist? Many engineers who code firmware aren’t actually trained or experienced as embedded software programmers, rather, they’ve qualified as electronics engineers and that’s their main area of expertise. Firmware programming is often a substituted skill that’s treated as a side show to the headline act –  Electronics engineering. Ultimately, this means that the electronics engineers doing the actual programming don’t have a formal education or background in the discipline. This means they can lack the complex skillsets required to overcome project obstacles, build in adequate cybersecurity measures and drive innovation forwards.

Increased device complexity requires specialist firmware skills and experience

For many embedded software projects treating firmware development as a sideshow is adequate, but industry trends such as the explosion of IoT devices, increasingly complex integrations, rigorous cybersecurity requisites and the myriad of technical proficiencies demand specialist skills to deliver. Without solid firmware expertise, your device development project is more liable to exceed budgets, reach a dead end, or produce substandard results.

Skilled firmware developers commit to lifelong learning and development

Increased device complexity means that simply retaining expert status in the firmware discipline requires a lifelong commitment to learning new skills. Our industry moves astonishingly quickly, so retaining diverse skills in an ever evolving industry requires running just to stand still. Ever changing Linux skills, IoT integrations, programming languages and Bluetooth, all require a fully focused commitment to studying, just to maintain relevant proficiency. The rapid obsolescence of skills could also increase your risks. Sideshow electronics engineers could be rusty in key firmware development areas like testing and security, introducing risk and increasing points of failure. For these reasons, employing side hustling electronics engineers is not the best commitment to project delivery or quality.

Complex device development should not be approached as a side show to electronics

Specialist embedded software companies require their firmware developers to be more highly qualified and experienced in embedded software programming and not just hire developers who can code firmware alongside their electronics abilities.

So, how does a specialist career in firmware development typically start?

Many embedded software developers possess a computer science degree, rather than an electronics degree. Being formally educated with a degree that delivers a strong foundation for an embedded software career enables firmware developers to reduce coding errors, cut down development time and innovate creatively.

Why is it hard to hire experienced embedded software engineers?

There’s a shortage of accomplished embedded software experience in our industry. As device complexity increases, the time required to learn solid embedded firmware skills has increased proportionally. Lengthy study journeys again put people off certain qualification pathways. Also, the numbers of aspiring firmware engineers graduating with computer science degrees are insufficient to meet our market’s demand.

So why don’t more people embark upon computer science degrees?

Having spent many years in the electronics industry and forming relationships with leading universities, it’s our belief that engineering requires significant maths ability and many people find maths extremely challenging. Industries without a mathematical competence are less taxing for our brains. Many young people simply opt for simpler degrees that are more achievable.

More reasons it can be hard to attract high calibre firmware development candidates

Ever since stay at home directives changed the way we work, many people prefer remote working roles. However, working from home can often be challenging for embedded software engineers. Security precautions can potentially remove the work from home option. Also, firmware development is very bandwidth and resource hungry, making it problematic for people with poor network speeds.

Rapidly growing industries are competing for firmware development skills

The skills required for firmware development are transferable to other fields, such as embedded systems engineering, hugely in demand IoT development, and the hotly trending area of robotics. As a result, talented firmware developers can be lured by opportunities outside of traditional firmware roles, leading to increased competition for top talent.

How do we overcome specialist firmware development recruitment challenges?

Bermondsey Electronics team’s many years of industry experience enables us to overcome the challenge of sourcing firmware development experts.

These things have helped us:

  • We’ve implemented robust hiring processes
  • We’ve gained time tested knowledge of what makes a strong firmware candidate
  • We know the right questions to ask to drill down on firmware development skills
  • We’re deeply respected and connected members of the firmware development community – for example firmware knowledge sharing groups and firmware career boards
  • We encourage a skills mentoring culture to rapidly build the firmware development skills within our existing team
  • Adhering to project management principles enables our team to remain productive and deliver high quality firmware development projects
  • We offer competitive benefits package

Managing firmware development teams can also be challenging for many reasons

Due to the complexity and shortage of skilled firmware developers, many embedded software teams are made up of developers working remotely all over the world. This can bring with it the added complexity of communicating in many different languages and across many time zones.  This can lead to scheduling issues and hinder collaboration, all of which cause problems when running a team and potentially multiple projects. Communication issues can also make it challenging to fully assess and monitor people’s skills and abilities.

How to overcome firmware development recruitment challenges

Sadly the lack of embedded firmware development skills, the increased device complexity and lack of formally trained developers means that often insufficiently skilled people are used to code firmware. This potentially leads to longer development times, project roadblocks, more coding errors and substandard final products. As a specialist embedded software company, Bermondsey Electronics have a correctly targeted recruitment programme, training and mentoring processes in place to deliver specialist skills. Partnering with us ensures that you have a highly motivated team of properly qualified experts to deliver high quality firmware projects on time and within your budget. In addition to supplying expert level embedded software development skills, we can also help you attract, qualify and interview your own firmware developers.

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