Bridging the Software Skills Gap
The Growing Need for Tech Workers
With technology continuing to develop at a head-spinning pace, companies are finding themselves in need of more tech workers to secure their data, build and maintain their websites and so much more. Unfortunately, the number of applicants isn’t even coming close to the number of available tech jobs. So what’s the deal?
The Gap is Real
There are currently 3 million more STEM jobs available than STEM workers. (1)
13 to 1
Ratio of STEM jobs posted online to STEM workers (1)
It is estimated that by 2020, there will be 1 million more computing jobs than workers who can fill those positions. (2) And many businesses and institutions are now realizing the need to hire more STEM professionals.
Number of additional IT and cybersecurity jobs the White House requested in 2016 (2)
Percent of companies surveyed that said finding tech workers to fill important IT positions was a challenge (3)
IT skills with the widest gap between available jobs and qualified workers are: (4)
- Information security
- Data center management and engineering
- Big data
- Infrastructure architects
- Cloud service brokers
- IT automation engineers
Picking Apart the Problem
So why does this massive gap between tech jobs and tech workers exist?
Many tech giants are concentrated in just a few cities.
The draw of four cities in the U.S. often leaves other cities around the country scrambling to find skilled IT workers. The most attractive cities for tech workers are: (5)
- San Francisco, CA
- San Jose, CA
- Seattle, WA
- Austin, TX
IT job seekers are nearly four times more interested in these tech hubs than in other cities in the U.S. (5)
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There still aren’t enough STEM students.
- Today, there are more than 500,000 computing jobs worldwide, but only 43,000 recent computer science graduates. (2) More than 50% of college students who start out majoring in a STEM field switch their major. (6)
- 48.7% of students leaving STEM field majors switch to business majors. (6)
There is a perceived gender bias in the tech industry.
Women have generally seen no increase in IT workforce representation over the past decade.
- 36% – Percentage of the computing workforce that are women (7)
- 24% – Percentage of the engineering workforce that are women (7)
- 11% – Percentage of Executive Committee members in major tech companies who are women (8)
Coming a Little Closer
What can the U.S. do to bridge the gap?
- Make digital literacy a common skill in every classroom. Introducing things like coding languages and basic website design early in a child’s education might give them more confidence to explore IT careers later in life. This also includes blending relevant technology curriculum within traditional higher education so students can learn these basic skills.
- Invest in current employees. If companies offered IT training or certifications to their own workers, they could promote from within instead of hiring someone completely new.
- Promote Non-Traditional Education. Coding bootcamps are a great opportunity for those with little coding proficiency to learn the basics and get some focused, technical training.
- Address student concerns early on in their college career. Many college students switch majors or drop out due to misconceptions about the tech industry. Professors and mentors should be leaders in providing hands-on learning for IT hopefuls.
- Consider salaries based on location. Though many tech workers in places like Silicon Valley are making six figures, they are still having trouble making ends meet in such expensive areas.
- Reach out to women and minorities. In order to attract a diverse workforce full of talented IT specialists, companies must maintain an environment free from gender or cultural bias.