Technology comprises 40% of the GDP in the United States of America according to the Department of Commerce, however there is a big imbalance in the supply and demand of technology talent in the work place. The Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Department of Labor states that employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. These occupations are expected to add about 488,500 new jobs, from about 3.9 million jobs to about 4.4 million jobs from 2014 to 2024, in part due to a greater emphasis on cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, more everyday items becoming connected to the Internet in what is commonly referred to as the “Internet of things,” and the continued demand for mobile computing.
GE launched a digital TV campaign written about by Kevin O’Neill earlier this year in Data Center Spotlight, highlighting the tech talent supply and demand imbalance. “A multi-million dollar marketing campaign shows that GE has to pull out all the stops to attract top-notch talent to their GE Digital division.With a growing need for infrastructure, cloud, and data center employees, most employers are very likely to take on and “coach up” a smart person with a capacity for the work and a willingness to learn. Developers, web engineers, and other technologists don’t exactly grow on trees, and they are in demand given the limited supply of capable, skilled workers.”
A-Plus-Consulting LLC has been immersed in the technology sector for a few years with various stakeholders and identified 4 top issues in the tech hire space:
1. Complexities with the process to obtain work authorization for international students studying in Business, Communication and STEM-related fields. The students I have personally worked with bring exceptional skills having worked for big names such as Accenture and Microsoft in countries of origin and they work extremely hard. The F1 visa status requires them to have a job offer to apply for curriculum practical training while studying, however the hiring process and technology prevent them from applying for jobs because it is a chicken and egg situation – which one comes first?
2. The technology field is a fast paced environment and it takes time for higher education institutions to adapt to new requirements for skills in demand, hence some employers hire experts to train their employees on-site to meet their talent development goals.
3. Lack of diversity in the technology sectors as reported by Elizabeth Weise and Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY, October 13, 2014 – “As technology becomes a major engine of economic growth in the U.S. economy, tech companies are under growing pressure to diversify their workforces, which are predominantly white, Asian and male. Leaving African Americans and Hispanics out of that growth, increases the divide between haves and have-nots. And the technology industry risks losing touch with the diverse nation — and world — that forms its customer base.”
4. Higher education institutions and tutors are not held accountable for students graduating to get placed in a career matching their education and students are often underemployed.
For employers, one solution is to hire visa holders for flexible internships who are going to higher education institutions to get their Master's or Ph.D. degrees. One way to do this is by contracting with a temporary staffing agency like ours which assures that they have the credentials you need.
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[Helena van der Merwe is the owner of A-Plus Consulting, LLC]