Filling the IT Talent Pipeline
For years, job loss has been a major concern for the majority of the workforce. But in the IT industry today, the problem is a lack of job candidates. An ongoing shortage of qualified IT professionals has become a stumbling block for many companies. The issue goes beyond trouble finding employees: Retaining IT talent is also more difficult than in the past. A recent Dice survey found that more IT candidates are turning down job offers than they were six months ago.
Mind the gap
CIO notes a recent TECNA poll that technology companies are looking to expand their IT workforce, but fear “a shortage in the quantity and quality” of tech talent. It’s a justifiable sentiment: According to CRN and Code.org, in just six short years, U.S. companies will be looking to fill 1.4 million computing jobs. Yet there are only about 400,000 students preparing for computer science (CS) careers.
To further complicate the picture, there’s a growing demand for hybrid IT professionals who can write code and interface with clientele. CRN notes that “strong consulting skills” are necessary as companies navigate a changing IT landscape that involves innovations such as the cloud and big data. According to Gartner, 62% of employers see nontechnical skills such as written and verbal communication as “extremely important.” That’s a 20% increase from those who reported feeling the same way about technical skills.
Training future coders
As mentioned, the number of IT graduates — especially those who also have business acumen — is nowhere near sufficient to meet existing and future needs. Many institutions are taking steps to address this issue.
For example, the IT industry is known for its gender disparity. Less than 1% of female college students in the United States major in CS and women earn only about 21% of all CS degrees. In the workforce, women comprise only 26% of IT employees. Now, companies such as Google (through its Made with Code program) are trying to cultivate young women’s interest in CS.
Other companies are working with schools to make CS education more accessible. Oregon State, for example, is offering an online CS degree program, allowing the school to increase its annual number of graduates with bachelor’s degrees in CS. Similar programs throughout the country work with local businesses to help train and place graduates and improve job literacy.
Coding schools are also springing up across the nation. For example, Treehouse online training offers the benefit of fast-tracked coding expertise without the need to sit in a classroom all day. Furthermore, many such programs team with businesses to help students find paying IT positions upon training completion. (Students should be aware, however, that coding programs can lack accreditation and regulation. Those interested in these programs should carefully research their legitimacy.)
Make the most of IT
Hopefully, such efforts will help to fight the drought of qualified IT candidates. For now, though, businesses can make the most of their hiring efforts by creating accurate, specific job descriptions. According to CRN, a recent Gartner study found that 95% of IT job postings didn’t mention the nontechnical skills that hiring managers also demand. Others included such a long list of requirements that many job seekers hesitated to even apply.
Employers are in dire need of developers and IT staff who both are skilled technologists and grasp higher-level business concepts. Candidates who have both the technical chops and business savvy are really the ones who can write their own ticket in today’s IT job market. Although businesses can — and should — provide on-the-job training for both technical and nontechnical skills, the smartest approach is to improve the hiring process. Getting help from hiring experts such as Chase Technology Consultants (CTC) can take the pressure off HR while producing fantastic results.
CTC specializes in identifying candidates with the skill set, experience, and personality that suit clients’ needs. Our expertise can help to facilitate the hiring and onboarding process and improve retention rates — bridging the employment gap for both employers and job seekers.