How the Skills Gap is Affecting You, Your Business, and the IT Industry

3.28.2014, Written by Annie Wang
Image is Creative Commons Flickr User photologue_np
Image is Creative Commons Flickr User photologue_np

When it comes to the current state of employment in the IT industry, two of the following facts ring true:


  1. Job opportunities have been steadily increasing since last year, and the IT sector is more in-demand than ever.
  2. More than half of IT employers say they cannot find qualified candidates to fill their positions, and issue which has directly affected their revenue.


So why, if there are more jobs and people working in IT, are employers having so much trouble staffing their workforce? According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, the problem stems from “the skills gap” – a lack of workers that have the skills required by management.


The survey identified a number of specialized skills that are considered highly desirable in 2014, such as programming, application development, data architecture and network designing. Also discovered was evidence that a growing number of providers lack knowledge in these areas.  DeVry University predicts that there could be up to 20 million jobs without enough qualified workers to fill them by 2025, and a shortage of 1.7 million workers with big data skills is expected to affect the U.S. alone in the next four years.


Disparities in wage expectations, new/shifting technologies, and superior job requirements versus entry requirements have all been identified as contributing to this gap. Inconsistencies in education, however, are proving to be the main hurdle for workers since skills required in real-life jobs aren’t being taught at many IT institutions.


“There is a growing disconnect between the skills employers need and the skills that are being cultivated in the labor market today,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. “This causes workers and companies to miss out on realizing their full potential, which in turn causes the economy to fall short of its potential.”


And fall short they do. Perhaps unsurprisingly, companies aren’t willing to hire just anybody for a job – especially someone who doesn’t meet their specifications. Unfortunately, this means that positions often sit unfilled for weeks or even months at a time and can cost a company upwards of $14,000 if open for longer than 12 weeks.


In recent years, this reality has affected 35% of the companies who filled out the survey, although the IT industry will likely experience even more turbulence in the coming years. Pew Research states that 10,000 baby boomers are aging into retirement on a daily basis and will continue to do so for the next 16 years. In addition to dramatically altering the labor force demographic, the skills that have been honed by boomers for decades are also leaving the marketplace in droves. Now, members of the millennial generation are experiencing a push to step up and fill these positions, and although many have taken the lead by seizing the cloud-based platform of the present, these “digital natives” need to replace an over 30-year gap of applicable skills.


In an effort to accommodate this increased need for knowledgeable workers (and correct the role of education as a relevant tool in the industry), some institutions have implemented programs that teach the importance of understanding both the tech-based environment of the present as well as the tried-and-true skillset of the past.


Pietro Rea, an iOS software developer and fellow millennial, said he used, an online learning company and Field Nation partner, to “make the switch from ‘business guy’ to ‘tech guy.’” Landing a job in the tech industry, he says, means everything from Java and PHP to understanding algorithms and software architecture. “Omitting this foundation,” he argues, “would be like trying to become a surgeon without knowing basic biochemistry.”


And while big data and hard skills are clearly captivating the current landscape, “soft skills,” such as communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration should also be considered. Computer Systems Institute notes that being personable is equally as important as knowing how to work with certain tools or technologies. The ability to introduce yourself to someone new, engage in small-talk and understand the importance of appropriate social conduct is “an art” that 44% of senior IT executives agree is lacking in the workforce.


Field Nation has taken the initiative to connect its members directly with their educational partners so users can be set up with the skills they need to stand out in their industry. Working alongside lynda.comDeVry UniversityComputer Systems InstituteCompTIANew Horizons, and AIIM International, Field Nation offers the reach and professional experience of 1.2 million community members as a way of bridging the skills gap. Getting work done is the Field Nation way and equipping providers with relevant information and skills enables them to take advantage of the growing opportunities presented in the IT field. Connect with Field Nation to learn how you can be a part of the skills gap solution with the proper tools and start getting more work done today.