The IT Job Shortage Matters

 

Guillem Martin

 

Apr 23, 2020 · 3 min read

 

Today’s businesses are highly connected to information technology. Websites need to be flawless, internal networks must be secure, and the printer is out of order again. While technology might not be their core expertise, IT is a central department for good business conduct, and this has become even more evident under the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. Even though its tangible value is not that significant, its value-in-use is of a non-negligible economic and strategic importance, not to say vital. While companies start to understand the importance of having well-oiled IT divisions, the supply of qualified computing workers is still lagging behind a growing demand.

Causes of the Shortage

The U.S. hosts the majority of the world’s leading tech companies. It is home to the biggest computing workforce worldwide, so the country is central in understanding why we are facing such a worker shortage. More than 600,000 openings for computing jobs are available in the U.S. today, but the qualified workers are just not there yet.

Indeed, amongst STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs, only 11% of 2019 university graduates majored in computer science, even though 67% of the new job openings in STEM rely on computer science. Universities have begun to implement more and more computer science-oriented curriculums. Even Bocconi University in Milan, which traditionally provides economics and management programs, started a new major mixing economics and computer science in 2016. However, undergraduate programs usually span over three to four years, so the resulting workforce is gradually reaching the job market. U.S. universities are witnessing approximately 30,000 more students graduate every year with computer science degrees.

Being familiar with coding languages and even having a basic understanding of the logic involved appears as a wise and practical choice since many simple repetitive and time-consuming tasks in the personal or work environment can be easily automated and optimized with very few coding efforts. Not everyone has to become a software engineer, but remember that literacy was once for scribes and priests. Likewise, in this day and age, almost every employee works with a laptop, so programming knowledge can greatly enhance productivity. Coding could be viewed as Excel on steroids, and no one argues about the importance of being familiar with Excel.

Why It Really Matters

Valuing IT departments is difficult; it is indeed easier to think about the disastrous consequences of a failing system to grasp its importance, but, nonetheless, specific KPIs clearly demonstrate how essential they are for all businesses. As access and demand for data grows more and more by the day, new tools for optimization appear. Therefore, CIOs need to find the right levers to blend IT solutions and core activity, such as with the help of new marketing tools to reach out directly to the right potential customers or to improve client satisfaction.

IT organization imposes itself as the only department capable of helping out every other department. All in all, it is one of the greatest leverage tools a company can use to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve productivity.

It is essential to build a strong IT team that is connected and briefed about the company’s needs so they can interact with every sector. After having set the essential framework for good business conduct, the IT teams could focus on providing extra value for the company. That’s where IT departments demand the qualified workers we do not have yet.

While U.S. companies today believe that 40% of their IT workforce is not qualified for the job, it is estimated that the global shortage will be overcome in the coming five- to six-year period, which is impressive in itself. However, in order to unleash all the potential of this workforce, some organizational changes will need to be made.

Organizations need to concentrate on fully implementing their information technology teams within their core business and on working on a better recognition of their value amongst managers who are most of the time out of touch with these technical matters. When the necessary good practices will be set, then and only then will we be able to see the true potential and advantage of a deeper IT implementation.

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