There’s has never been a better time to be in IT – and yet there is growing evidence of a disconnect between the skills people have and the skills the industry needs. It seems that IT professionals just don’t have what the tech industry wants.
IT is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. Almost 6.5 million people work in tech in the U.S., an increase of nearly 130,000 in 12 months. Tech accounts for nigh-on 6% of the entire private sector workforce, according to analysis published earlier this year by CompTIA, the voice of the U.S. tech industry.
And there are no signs of any let-up in the pace of growth. The U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics estimates that the number of jobs for software developers will grow by 22% by 2022, much faster than the average across other sectors.
But a report published this week is adding to growing concern that the tech industry isn’t getting the skills it needs.
A survey of both IT leaders and IT professionals found that both groups recognised the existence of a skills gap. In fact, the numbers across the two groups agreeing that it is not a myth were remarkably similar, at about 80%.
And only a third of both IT leaders and IT professionals believed their organization has the skills it needs.
IT talent experts TEKsystems surveyed almost 600 IT leaders and 700 IT professionals in North America, in companies turning over up to $1 billion, to produce the report, and even away from the headline findings it makes worrying reading.
Six out of 10 IT leaders said the skills gap was having a severe or moderate impact on their organization. Only 3% said it was having no impact at all.
And when it came down to reasons for the mismatch between skills and need, a chasm opened up between the views of IT leaders and professionals.
Almost half of IT leaders said a lack of the technical skills they wanted was the main reason why it was hard to find quality candidates. Another fifth said it was lack of soft skills. That makes seven out of 10 IT leaders attributing the problem to a skills shortage.
But when IT professionals were asked why they were not offered a job for which they had been considered, only one in four said it was down to skills. Instead, they largely put it down to experience: 26% had too much, 19% had too little.
(By contrast, while 13% of IT leaders said candidates didn’t have enough experience, only 3% said they were overqualified).
According to the report, one reason for this disparity could be that IT leaders are looking for someone with all the skills they might need, setting the bar unrealistically high.
“There shouldn’t be any doubt that the IT skills gap is real and is having a significant impact on organizations’ abilities to be successful,” says TEKsystems research manager Jason Hayman. “A well-defined workforce strategy is by far the most effective weapon organizations can deploy to combat the IT skills gap.”
But it’s hard to get away from the conclusion that IT professionals just do not have the skills the industry needs.
This view is reinforced by data that shows computer science graduates have the highest unemployment rate of any subject (I will post later this week on the implications in other subjects).
There are a number of different likely reasons for this, including higher numbers of black and ethnic minority students, who tend to have higher unemployment rates, on computer science courses.
But we also need to reassess the skills being taught on computer science courses in schools and universities to make sure they are aligned with what the industry needs. Otherwise we may find ourselves with a plethora of graduates who just don’t fit with the jobs that are out there.
This article was written by Nick Morrison from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.