Information Technology Skills Gap and Demand

by HSG on Sep 15, 2012 in IT Hiring

Back in the late 90's, there were a number of computer scienctists claiming to know java in hopes of landing a job for $80k+/year.  In fact, I know a woman you did just that:  land a project management position with a large telecom and have no experience whatsoever.  I guess the company figured that some talent was better than no talent and that, with some time and training, she would be productive.  Like all gravey train stories, that one, too, had an end.  After only a year, she was given a pink slip.

Not only are those days over, job prospects for the IT professional have become considerably more demanding.  Saying you know java today is like saying you know that you have expertise with the computer mouse; that's nice, but what else can you do.   This demand can be attributed to an increase in global competition along with the introduction of a number of varied technologies.   Take .NET, Python, Ruby, Spring, Hibernate ... as an example;  most of them, along with many others, are the backbone of the IT infrastructure of most mid-to-large scale US corporations.  Imagine the difficulty in finding the right mix of experience, knowledge and talent to support, maintain and devlop with such desparate technologies.

Well imagine no more.  According to the IT Hiring Index and Skills Report, seventy percent of CIO’s said it's challenging to find skilled professionals today.  If we add the rapid rate of technological innovation into the mix of factors affecting more businesses now than ever before, it’s understandable that the skill gap is widening.  Consider this as well:  the economic downturn has forced many potential retires to remain in the workforce.  This is detailed in MetLife's annual Study of Employee Benefits which states that“more than one-third of surveyed Baby Boomers (35%) say that as a result of economic conditions they plan to postpone their retirement.”  How then does the corporation hire new, more informed/better educated talent?    Indeed, the IT skills gap is ever widening.

In order to compensate for these skill discrepencies, many firms have resorted to hire the ideal candidates by demanding they possess a christmas wish list of expertise in a variety of different IT disciplines.  It would not be uncommon that such individuals have a strong programming background and are brilliant DBA's.  What about training?  That is certainly a way to diminish the skills gap.

Ahh, perception is everything.  With ever tightening budgets, many want to see an immediate return for their money.  The same holds true for companies.  It is much easier to point to the superstar you just hired to justify an expenditure than to say that the team has just taken a java training class eventhough the later is far less costly and, arguably, far more effective.   

So how are companies hoping to diminish the skills gap?  The chart below, taken from a recent Comp TIA study of, Employer Perceptions of IT Training and Certification illustrates how.

How Organizations Plan to Address IT Skills Gaps                           

Current IT skills in high demand

System and networking engineers:  2010 Median Pay $115,750 per yearJob Outlook30%

·         Cloud Computing

·         Combined skills in server, software and networking

Developers2010 Median Pay $90,530 per year.   Job Outlook 30% (Much faster than average)

·         .NET, Java, PHP, Silverlight, Flex, MySQL

·         Portal technologies, such as SharePoint

Quality assurance professionals and business analysts: 2010 Median Pay $77,740   Job Outlook 22%

·         IT project managers

·         Quality assurance professionals

Data warehousing and business intelligence professionals: 2010 Median Pay $69,160 per year Job Outlook 28%

·         Warehousing professionals who can gather increasing amounts of data from various streams.

Security professionals: 2010 Median Pay $75.660 per year Job Outlook 22%

·         Data security and protection, especially in industries such as banking and healthcare

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