January 25, 2024

With New Challenges and Opportunities for MSPs in 2024, Supplier Selection Strategies Should be a Top Priority

The 2024 job market promises to be curious, to say the least. While certain sectors such as healthcare and technology will likely boom this year, those in the retail and hospitality industries may find themselves plodding along at a sluggish pace. This uneven terrain presents a unique challenge for Managed Services providers (MSPs) and their staffing partners – how do we navigate these disparities and ensure that clients land the talent they need in a landscape where "one size fits all" no longer applies? In 2024's disjointed job market, where skills are in high demand but unevenly distributed, MSPs face a unique challenge: how to secure the top tech talent they need to stay ahead of the curve. Concentrating on supplier selection and reconfiguring supply bases should be strategic considerations for this new year.

Hiring Momentum and Stalls: Positions Booming or Braking

The healthcare industry, fueled by an aging population and increased investment in preventative care, is a goldmine for qualified professionals. Nurses, doctors, and healthcare technicians are in high demand, with salaries rising rapidly to attract and retain talent. Similarly, the tech sector, driven by digital transformation and the cloud computing revolution, craves skilled engineers, developers, and cybersecurity experts. These booming segments offer ample opportunities for both job seekers and staffing companies.

However, the picture is less rosy across other sectors. Retail and hospitality, still recovering from the pandemic's blow, face lower consumer spending and changing shopping habits. Hiring in these sectors has slowed down, leading to a surplus of available talent and stagnant wages. Manufacturing, too, grapples with automation and global competition, resulting in job losses and a shift towards niche skill sets.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects healthcare-related careers to grow at a rapid rate, requiring an additional influx of over 1.8 million new healthcare workers from 2022-2032. The most noticeable increases involve five fields.


While the entire tech sector is expected to thrive throughout 2024, specific skill sets within it have become imperative. The competition to recruit cybersecurity experts, cloud architects, and AI specialists is fierce, with salaries skyrocketing and companies scrambling to fill critical positions. This disparity within the booming tech sector presents both opportunities and challenges for MSPs.

By developing deep expertise in cybersecurity, cloud migration, or AI implementation, MSPs can carve out a valuable niche and attract clients seeking these in-demand services. This specialization allows them to command premium rates, attract top talent, and build a reputation as a trusted advisor in their chosen field.

However, the challenges are just as daunting. Attracting and retaining this highly sought-after talent requires more than just competitive salaries. MSPs need to offer compelling career paths, opportunities for continuous learning and development, and a work environment that fosters innovation and collaboration. Understanding the specific needs and pain points of different industries served by the MSP is crucial to attracting and retaining talent who can deliver solutions beyond generic tech expertise.


A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report predicts that the U.S. unemployment rate will increase from 3.9% in 2023 to 4.4% by the end of 2024. Layoffs and job cuts factor into this figure, but for sectors such as manufacturing, the problem is more complicated. During the pandemic, 1.4 million workers lost their jobs as facilities shut down due to quarantines. The industry then added nearly 800,000 jobs in an impressive recovery effort. Yet despite positive growth, manufacturing analysts expect a tough slog in reaching pre-pandemic numbers. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) estimates that 550,000 positions remain unfilled, with research by Deloitte indicating that these vacancies will increase. 

NAM also discovered that 71% of the manufacturers it surveyed cited attracting and retaining talent would be the biggest challenges of 2024. What’s driving this shortage?

  • Automation, AI, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are creating “smart factories,” where robotics and predictive analytics streamline processes to introduce higher levels of productivity with less reliance on human workers.
  • A new generation of workers simply aren’t considering industrial work, with reasons that include perceptions of low pay, poor work-life balance, and unsafe working conditions.
  • Many of the skills required for industrial work are longer being taught, and that knowledge will leave with retiring Boomers and Gen X talent, or could be supplanted by automation.

That said, the manufacturing industry is still in need of critical skills. According to Randstad, the most sought-after skill in the manufacturing industry for 2024 is PLC troubleshooting and programming. Other skills that manufacturing companies need include:

  • Working with micrometres
  • Working with blueprints
  • Working with cutting equipment
  • Working with engineering drawings

How Staffing Providers Are Adjusting to Meet Demands

Diving Deeper into Industry Trends

Gone are the days of relying on generic job descriptions and broad candidate pools. Staffing professionals are concentrating on becoming industry specialists, immersing themselves in the nuances of each sector. Understanding the specific skills and qualifications in demand, the salary trends, and the unique challenges faced by companies within each segment is crucial. This allows staffing providers to tailor their services and communicate effectively with both clients and candidates.

Embracing Niche Expertise

The “jack-of-all-trades” approach no longer suffices. Staffing providers must develop expertise in niche skill sets within booming sectors. This could involve building a specialized team of recruiters focused on cybersecurity, cloud computing, or advanced medical technology. By catering to these in-demand talent pools, staffing providers can become a trusted advisor to MSPs seeking to fill critical positions.

Leveraging Technology for Efficiency

Robust job boards, AI-powered candidate matching algorithms, and data-driven insights can help identify the right talent quickly and efficiently. By streamlining recruitment processes and leveraging technology, staffing agencies can adapt to the dynamic nature of the job market and stay ahead of the curve.

Fostering Talent Agility

With skills becoming obsolete at an alarming rate, promoting talent agility is key. Staffing providers help job seekers identify transferable skills, upskill or reskill themselves, and consider career pivots to capitalize on opportunities in booming sectors. This not only benefits individual candidates but also creates a more flexible talent pool for MSPs and their clients.

Building Trust and Transparency

In an uncertain job market, trust and transparency are paramount. The most successful staffing partners an MSP can have are those who interact honestly with candidates about the realities of each sector, while managing expectations effectively and providing ongoing career guidance. Building strong relationships with both MSPs and candidates allows staffing providers to become valuable resources in overcoming the challenges presented by the modern workplace.

Supplier Selection Strategies for MSPs in 2024

So, how can MSPs navigate this complex landscape and find the right talent partners in 2024? Here are some key strategies.

Focus on Skill Sets

Don't rely on generic job descriptions. Clearly identify the specific skill sets within the booming areas that align with your client base and service offerings. Look for suppliers with proven expertise in these niche areas, demonstrated by certifications, experience with similar clients, and a strong track record of successful projects. Introduce new, smaller suppliers into the mix who have already established their niche in core skills or geographies. Remember, older suppliers in your network may have become comfortable and not made a lot of traction in specializing on new skills across their candidate pipelines.

Beyond the Resume

Go beyond traditional resumes and qualifications. Assess a supplier’s ability to understand your specific client needs, their commitment to continuous learning and upskilling, and their alignment with your company culture. Look for collaborative partnerships where skills and values mesh, creating a winning combination for delivering exceptional service.

Embrace Agility and Scalability

The talent landscape is constantly evolving. Choose suppliers who can adapt quickly to changing skill demands and project requirements. This might involve leveraging flexible talent pools, utilizing gig workers for specific projects, or partnering with niche recruitment agencies specializing in in-demand skill sets. Again, smaller suppliers with specialized recruiting niches are often more nimble and agile than large enterprise staffing providers who react slower to change and sudden shifts in course.

Technology as a Bridge

Leverage technology platforms to streamline supplier selection and talent acquisition. Utilize AI-powered matching tools, online talent marketplaces, and data-driven insights to identify the right partners efficiently. Building a robust vendor management system can further optimize the process and facilitate collaboration between your team and the chosen suppliers.

Foster Trust and Transparency

Open communication and clear expectations are essential. Be transparent about your needs, project demands, and performance expectations. Partner with suppliers who share your commitment to quality, security, and client satisfaction. Building trust fosters a strong working relationship and ensures successful long-term collaborations.

The Road Ahead for MSPs

In 2024’s disjointed job market, MSPs need to be strategic, proactive, and adaptable. By specializing in in-demand skill sets, fostering agility, and building strong partnerships with the right suppliers, they can not only navigate the talent tightrope but also leverage it to their advantage, staying ahead of the curve and delivering exceptional value to their clients.

Remember, the key to success lies in understanding your specific needs, identifying the right partners with niche expertise, and fostering a collaborative environment that attracts and retains top talent. In this dynamic tech landscape, let’s turn the talent challenge into an opportunity for growth and innovation, solidifying your position as a leader in the ever-evolving world of Managed Services.

Photo by Rupert Britton on Unsplash

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