Most recently the theory of a growing shortage was bolstered by a December 2007 Gartner report entitled “The Quest for Talent – You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.” One of the report’s authors, Andy Kyte, went so far as to say in a statement that “(t)his is a massive and devastating skills shortage, and it is coming when there is a surge in the number of projects that are required from IT.”
But there is a growing resistance to this “common knowledge” of IT labor shortages—a number of economists, academics and industry experts refute these claims, stating that there simply isn’t any hard evidence to support the idea that there is or soon will be an IT skills shortage.
Good points in the article:
“Wages have been basically pretty flat,” he said, “and that’s where we would see numbers spike if there was any kind of shortage. You would see signing bonuses and so forth.”
“What tends to get mixed up in this discussion is the idea of a shortage versus a hiring difficulty,” Salzman says. “In my studies we tend to find that some of the it industry is new its growing and has unrealistic expectations of a mature labor market in most industries understand that it takes some time to train workers to become productive and there has been an expectation in the IT industry that you should be able to hire people off the street and day two or three they should come up to speed.”
Look at the job ads wanting you know, 15 skills at 10+ years experience each. Can’t find somebody like that (to work for $30 / hr especially), so that’s a shortage!
Last fall Salzman and Lindsay Lowell of Georgetown University produced a paper for The Urban Institute that showed that general science technology engineering and math ( STEM) enrollment at American universities was at least double the net increase of jobs each year. It noted that the IT industry in particular was unique in that up to 40 percent of IT workers have no STEM degree at all, many of whom came from the business side and learned the technology on the job. This only further widens the pool of eligible workers, he said.
I’m one of the 40%.
Gartner analysts used the argument that businesses are finding it hard to find “hybrid professionals” trained in technology and possessing business savvy due to a 39 percent drop in computer science enrollment since 2002.
The industry collapsed and a year later enrollment declined. That’s a problem? I mean wouldn’t you be worried if students kept enrolling without any jobs? Would you want to hire people like that? They say they want these hybrid professionals who understand business and markets and yet they want them to make a career decision without taking into account the market?”
A point to add here is, it’s a common complaint out there that you need IT people ‘who know the business’, and really, who do not act like traditional IT people. That is, people who enroll in technical courses of study are not choosing to enroll in business school as undergraduates, yet they are blamed for not having the business background. In fact, it has seemed that actual IT / technical skills have been deprecated in favor of business knowledge / skills.
In the case of industry business people, the motive is to get the Feds to loosen immigration restrictions for cheap foreign labor, to increase supply of workers in order to reduce labor costs and to justify offshore outsourcing efforts, Hira said.
I thought it was all about the skills
Meanwhile, universities are also set on perpetuating the shortage perception because they themselves are promoting their business interests, Hira said.
During the last tech boom many universities staffed up in order to churn out enough students to meet IT’s then-growing demand for applicants. Now that that has leveled off many universities are overstaffed for the current crop of students. They want to put students in seats in order to keep the lights on.
Yes, with declining enrollments departments have to do something to get the enrollments up. A large part of this is the watering down of technical (CompSci, IT) degree programs. For example, I understand that at Carnegie-Mellon you can get a CompSci degree without taking a single programming course! IT students are told that things like programming, etc. aren’t that important. This feeds back into the point made above about business skills. Are truly technical people needed in such numbers for there to be a shortage?
“If you’re out of work for six months or a year are you going to be obsolete or at least perceived to be obsolete by an employer and I think those risks have increased quite dramatically and if you think about risk and reward from an investment point of view, we don’t see a concurrent increase in the reward side in the wages to justify those risks.”
“The trouble is that it creates a disincentive for Americans to study these technical fields,” Wadhwa said. “We’re hurting ourselves; computer science enrollment is dropping because the incentive is not there for students to study computer science.”