America's IT Talent Crisis: A Supply and Demand Problem

By Celerity View Comments

America's IT Talent Crisis: A Supply and Demand Problem

Now that baby boomers are retiring, it’s up to a new pool of young talent to break into the workforce and fill in the gaps. And the gaps are the widest in the IT industry.

The problem is, as the demand for IT talent accelerates, the supply is decreasing. A recent IDC report sponsored by Microsoft Corp. showed 1.7 million cloud-related IT jobs went unfilled last year—and the number of available cloud positions will swell 26% per year to about seven million by 2015.

While total U.S. job growth was only 1.5% in 2013, IT jobs are up by 4.57% from a year ago. And while the national unemployment rate stands at 7.7%, the unemployment rate for tech workers is less than 4 percent. The problem is—those jobs aren’t getting filled.

The reason IT jobs are hard to fill mainly stems from the fact that young people aren’t being trained to fill them. Despite the fact that the number of computer and IT jobs grew 13% from 2003 to 2012, the number of people with degrees in these fields dropped by 11 percent. Computer science is the only one of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields that has actually seen a decrease in student participation over the last 20 years. And even if students wanted to go into programming, the course is only offered in 10% of American high schools. According to the College Board, in 2010, only 14,517 students took the AP computer science test, compared to the 194,784 students that took the AP calculus test and 109,609 students that took the AP statistics test.

The combination of ill-equipped workers and a boom in IT has produced a critical skills shortage, and companies desperate for talent will need to look for creative ways to find personnel. Until we flex towards a more modular learning system (focusing on more specialized and IT-related subjects or skills), this trend will continue. Recently, in the face of a worker shortage (partly due to the H-1B visa cap), one tech company released plans to build an 1,800-person floating city for foreign IT workers in international waters off the coast of San Francisco.

Many companies are turning to the most practical option: using a staffing firm to fill those IT positions with top talent. In fact, Employment Services saw an 18% sales growth during 2012.While the average time to fill IT positions is 37 days, companies like Celerity have access to large networks of highly-qualified tech professionals who are looking to transition to their next position, and our talent specialists can fill the requirements within 14 days.

So there is a shortage where demand severely outstrips supply, and the gap probably won’t be bridged any time soon. How will you find the talent to keep moving forward on your IT initiatives?

Posted in: IT Consulting