One of the bright spots in an economy persistently checked by uncertainty is the prediction that technology companies are looking to hire more employees over the next year. But as with all good news about the current state of the economy, the good news is accompanied with a qualifier. While 63 percent of large technology companies intend to hire new technical professionals over the next twelve months, they worry that there will not be enough qualified candidates to fill the vacancies. The survey, conducted by the trade group Technology Councils of North America, also indicates that 70 percent of small to mid-sized tech companies are looking to expand their tech staffs as well.
A debate over the shortage being real or myth has been going on for years. While hiring organizations see an IT talent shortage, third-party recruiters say that hiring managers have to get more creative and realistic about candidate job requirements, and job seekers complain that the whole candidate evaluation process is “screwed-up”. Whether it’s a talent shortage or a messed-up hiring process the issue is causing delayed IT projects, poor quality, reduced competitiveness and productivity and missed opportunities for growth in the technology sector. The very sector economist identify as the most likely sector to put the “robust” back into describing the economy.
Discussions over solutions to the problem include employer pay, benefits, and performance expectations. Some talk of increasing efforts to further education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and others even advocate reforms to the immigration system to bring in more skilled foreign workers. Listening to all sides of the debate it is clear that the solution doesn’t lie with how many IT job applicants there are in the talent pool, or about the IT hiring process, but rather with all of the above. And regardless of what it is called, the problem is real; likely to be with us for years to come; and will require both short term and long term solutions.
According to Manpower Group 2014 Talent Shortage Survey Key Findings, nearly half of IT employers have begun addressing talent shortages through increased training for existing staff and implementing non-traditional recruitment practices. One in four employers is exploring new talent sources according to the study and others are implementing alternative work models to focus on improving their talent pipeline.
But effective, long term solutions will demand all stakeholders to collectively coordinate and facilitate efforts to revamp secondary, collegiate and technical education programs that produce students who have the specialized skills that are required of a career in a dynamic and ever expanding industry. It is time to end the debate and move forward on identifying and implementing real solutions.
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