IT Professionals Dont Have What The Tech Industry Wants


Nick Morrison, Contributor

July 1, 2015

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.


There are 41 comments

  • Henry McKelvey, MIS - 12/11/2015 23:09
    OK, having read this post. I cannot help but feel that the author without meaning it proceeds to insult the intelligence of all the readers of this post. First of all, I am tired of people saying "IT Professionals Don't Have What The Tech Industry Wants". I once was in a meeting and the speaker was exclaiming that "we did not have it." This prompted me to ask the question, "What is it?" This was met by absolute silence. The problem is your article should be titled: "IT Professionals Have What The Tech Industry Wants, The Tech Industry Just Does Not Want To Pay For It". Listen, I use to believe the same thing, until I got rejection after rejection and for one year I did not work. I then took a position at a company for $45,000 a year, I worked there for awhile until I got a position at another company for $85,000, finally I applied for a position in the low 100's and got it. What I realize now is that companies want people for jobs but they do not want to pay, until the job gets to a point that no one in their right minds wants that job. I guess there is a point where companies will take workers, but you as the person being hired the expectation is that you are to walk through a fire with gasoline soaked underwear.

  • Bernard Biagini - 12/08/2015 14:21
    This finding should be no surprise. Most organizations routinely cut ongoing professional education as the first response to internal budgetary pressures. Further, the process used to be: (1) identify the need, (2) construct the formula for the business case, (3) evaluate the alternatives, (4) select and in some cases test the solution, (5) get necessary education for staff, (6) implement. The discipline in approach is gone due to the pressures of "getting something done." I find the hiring approaches, professional education tactics, and lack of good, solid management in today's work place fall short of the need.

  • Bob Dupree - 12/06/2015 21:01
    Dave, I totally agree with your question here, need to see the breakdown. I would say If there is a shortage in various areas why aren't companies hiring and training for the skills they need? What better way to build a happy (IT) workforce then to hire people with the right aptitude and train them. Why can't hiring managers see that it's people who come first then technology? So much to say on this topic.

  • View more

Great ! Thanks for your subscription !

You will soon receive the first Content Loop Newsletter