By: Mark B. Roberts, Chief Executive Officer, TechServe Alliance
While much of the press attention has focused on the unacceptably high national unemployment rate, these headlines belie a different challenge: a talent shortage in IT and other high demand skillsets.
First, a few IT staffing numbers. According to the TechServe Alliance IT Index, in January 2012, IT employment hit an all-time high of 4,107,700 jobs and has hit successive all-times highs in all subsequent months but one.
While the rate of growth appears to be moderating over the last few months after a torrid pace in 2011, demand for IT professionals is expected to remain very strong.
In the face of robust demand, the supply of IT talent remains constrained by a number of factors.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a number of IT skill sets have unemployment rates below 4% with occupations such as computer network architects below 1%.
With too few new workforce entrants choosing IT as a career and restrictive immigration policies, the supply of IT talent appears destined to be constrained.
Where does that leave us for 2013 and beyond? While demand for many IT skill sets may ebb and flow month-to-month, the clear trend line in IT staffing is increased demand in the face of a limited supply.
To attract the IT talent you or your clients require, companies will need to have a comprehensive strategy including one or more of the following elements:
Enhanced Recruiting Capability
Among the skill sets in highest demand: Technical Recruiter. Ensure both your own organization and your outside providers have the recruiting bandwidth to meet your talent needs in the coming year.
Be Prepared to Pay More for Hot Skill Sets
While not what most employers want to hear, labor markets truly do reflect the balance or imbalance between supply and demand. If you are still determined to pay IT professionals in high-demands skill sets at recession level pay rates, expect to fall short of your recruiting goals.
Streamline Your Hiring Process and Provide Regular Feedback
Beyond pay, many employers in a hot job market lose great talent because their hiring process is too slow or they fail to provide timely feedback to their outside IT Services firms. In an environment where high demand candidates often have multiple job offers, quick decision-making and timely feedback can make all the difference.
While 2013 will no doubt look somewhat different than 2012, many of the secular trends in place look likely to continue into the New Year and beyond.
Mark Roberts is Chief Executive Officer of TechServe Alliance, the national trade association for the IT & Engineering Staffing and Solutions industry. Prior to being named CEO by the TechServe Alliance Board of Directors in February 2003, Mr. Roberts served as COO & General Counsel of the organization. He is an authority on both business trends and legal issues impacting the IT services industry. He writes and speaks frequently on industry topics including what successful IT services firms are doing to drive growth and profitability.
Before joining TechServe Alliance, Mr. Roberts was a partner in the Labor and Employment Group of a large Florida law firm. Mr. Roberts also served for four years in the Washington, D.C. office of Congressman Benjamin A. Gilman of New York. Mr. Roberts earned his undergraduate degree from Haverford College in Political Science. He earned his law degree with distinction from Emory University in 1990. Mr. Roberts currently serves as a member of the Labor Relations Committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.