The IT Talent Shortage: Separating Myths from Facts

8 July 2019

Takeaway: IT pros say they’re having a hard time finding jobs. Companies say they’re having a hard time finding qualified candidates. So what’s the real story with the IT talent shortage?

If you peruse job ads, there are always openings for IT positions. In fact, we’ve been told over and over that there’s a severe shortage of these professionals. On the other hand, some critics have said there really isn’t a shortage of IT jobs. They say the problem is that companies have unrealistic requirements, are not willing to train existing workers, or they want to pay below market rates. One example of the confusion surrounding this issue is a CNN report on IBM’s decision, in 2016, to lay off thousands of workers while also planning to hire 20,000 new employees. This followed revelations from Business Insider, that in 2015, IBM added 70,000 new workers — many through acquisitions — and also shed 70,000 employees.

So, what’s going on? Is there an IT talent shortage or not? If there is, what’s causing it? Techopedia rounded up a stable of experts to separate the myths from the facts.

Real Shortage or Crying Wolf?

All of our experts are in agreement that the IT talent shortage is real. “The lack of software engineers is not a myth; there are currently about half a million unfilled computing jobs in the U.S.” according to Sylvain Kalache, co-founder at coding academy Holberton School. “And according to a recent survey by Stripe and Harris Poll, this software developer talent is actually more valuable than money to companies, proving just how bad the shortage really is,” Kalache says. (To learn about what it’s like to be a software engineer, check out Job Role: Software Engineer.)

In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer science jobs and only 400,000 computer science grads who have the necessary skills. ”And that’s why the top four tech companies — Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon — have made billion-dollar investments in new campuses across the nation,” according to Dr. Arthur Langer, director of the Center for Technology Management at Columbia University and chairman and founder of Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS), a nonprofit with a mission of developing the skills of untapped talent.

Trying to Keep Up

There’s no single reason for the shortage of IT talent. However, one issue is that we can’t produce IT workers as quickly as needed. According to Kalache, universities are training roughly 35,000 computer science grads each year, and alternative education is training approximately 20,000 a year, but he says we are a long way from being able meet the needs of companies.

Digital transformation is outpacing education at all levels of IT jobs, and Langer sees the effects on a routine basis. He oversees the M.S. in Technology Management program at Columbia. “This is a master’s program designed for professionals with over a decade of experience in leadership or technology,” Langer says. However, almost one-third of his students already have a master’s degree, and many of the students have an MBA. “From high school students to industry leaders, people are recognizing the need to re-skill and constantly adapt to today’s digital landscape — and we probably don’t even know what skills the jobs ten years from now will require of workers.”

The digital revolution and enterprise adoption of new technologies are two factors that David Armendariz, general manager of the technology division for Lucas Group, points to as contributing to the technology shortage. But they aren’t the only two. “A retiring baby boomer generation, a deficiency in STEM graduates, and an increase in millennials’ lack of interest in technical careers or a career path are three other reasons,” Armendariz says.

Lowball Offers

However, companies are also responsible for the shortage. For example, Armendariz says companies want to get a bargain when they hire employees. “Many companies base their offers on a budget that was created by someone who doesn’t truly understand what it takes to recruit the best technical talent in today’s marketplace,” he says. “Also, a lot of companies think that if they have a ‘unique culture,’ candidates will want to work there for far less money than they could make somewhere else, and more often than not, it’s just not true.” Yep, it turns out that being able to bring your dog to work or do rooftop yoga doesn’t compare to being able to pay your bills and live a comfortable life.

Read The Entire Article Here: “The IT Talent Shortage: Separating Myths from Facts,” Techopedia, By Terri Williams