The Information Technology Skills Gap is Growing
'Skills Gap,' you’ve undoubtedly heard this buzzword used quite a bit recently, whether it was on the news or in a meeting at work. The problem creating this gap, especially in the information technology sector, is that while there are plenty of job openings, there are too few individuals with the skills to qualify them for these jobs. The problem is not the volume of available talent but the high level and industry specific skills needed to complete certain tasks necessary for most positions.
Earlier this year, LinkedIn analyzed the most common skills mentioned in job postings around the world. The following are the top five in the U.S. from that report:
- Cloud computing
- Data mining
- Mobile development
- Network security
- Middleware and integration software
Quite a few of the jobs that are the hardest to fill currently didn’t even exist when much of the existing workforce were going through school, college and additional training or certifications. Continued education and investment in building the skills of our current workforce to meet the demands of today’s employers could reduce the skills gap and improve time-to-fill over time, especially in the IT sector. The need for continued education is possibly felt the most in the information technology and data security sectors.
In the meantime, temp jobs are on the rise. U.S. Employers nationwide are expected to add nearly 175,000 temporary jobs over the next two years according to research from May 2016. This is an increase of 5.9%. Also this year a reported 47% of employers across all industries are expected to hire temporary or contract workers with 60% of those employers expected to transition a portion of those workers into full-time permanent positions within their organizations.
Focusing on the technology sector, however, there are certainly more highly specialized skills in high demand across many areas of this ever evolving industry. The IT industry is unique however in that it has a presence great or small in most other industries around the globe. Skills that are on the hot list this year are vast, however, the most in demand at the moment are as follows.
Software Development -
The umbrella of Software Development is possibly the broadest of the tech skills mentioned in this article. Though there are basic principles of the development but the most highly valued of these at the moment include web and mobile application development. Specifically, experience with RESTful architectures, Python programming language and the Git version control system are among the most frequently referenced in job posting this year. In addition to these skills, Ruby and Ruby on Rails, Node.js, Perl, Scala, Django and Android and Apple mobile app development we also regularly included in desired skills.
Information Security -
Industry experts predict a deficit of as many as two million information security professionals to fill open positions by the year 2020. With positions ranging from Chief Security Officer (CSO) and down to IT professionals responsible for the daily maintenance and direct resolution of user issues on a daily basis, the opportunities for InfoSec specialized talent is vast throughout many industry sectors. The securing and protection of organizations data and sensitive or proprietary data has never been at higher risk. Training, certifications as well as scholarships through a number of private and government initiatives exist for IT professionals seeking to broaden their skillsets.
Database Administration And Development -
This segment of the database management and administration business tends to focus more on mainstream, SQL-oriented database engines and related tools. Oracle, MySQL, and Microsoft SQL Server tend to be the leaders in this region of the IT skills landscape and are the most valued skills when it comes to experience preferred by organizations. However, there is still a lot of value placed on data warehousing, data mining, business intelligence, and analytics of all kinds.
Cloud And Virtualization -
For the foreseeable future, cloud-based technologies and virtualization are the cutting edge of technology for businesses allowing for faster and more secure collaboration across many different types of platforms and between many users. Virtualization being a key component of the ability to enable the cloud itself as a vital and absolutely necessary aspect of cloud technology operation and implementation. With regards to virtualization experience with VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Oracle VirtualBox and Citrix XenServer are often listed as desirable skills. While on the cloud side of the job skills organizations have begun to rely on commodity providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, Google Compute and HP's Converged Infrastructure with OpenStack skills in high demand as well.
IT Operations And Governance -
While IT as a technology asks if we ‘can,' IT Operations and Governance asks if we ‘should.' Processes and practices rule this area of the IT sector. Organizational, local and national regulations determine those practices and these IT professionals implement and manage their execution. This is where disciplines such as COBIT and ITIL come into the picture. Compliance with related rules, laws, regulations, and established best practices must be applied and enforced for IT operations, including risk assessment and mitigation, auditing, formal change management, and so on.
Big Data And Data Science - Big data is sometimes referred to as data science and is a data-driven and data-focused area. Different from just pure database management this is where non-traditional data engines such as Hadoop (HBase) and MongoDB come into the picture. Here data management is just as important as the data handling. Data mining and skills in mathematics and the implementation of mathematical tools and models to make sense of this data are extremely important in this area of information technology.
No matter the advances in technology humans will likely always need some way to interface with these technologies in a physical way and to network these physical hardware devices both wired and wirelessly. This there will always be a need for workers who are both qualified and well-trained in the networking of devices as well as the virtualized software that now more frequently stands in for physical routers, switches, gateways, firewalls, content filters, and appliances of all.
In the Information Technology industry skills needed and learned through experience can vary from organization to organization and from industry to industry. For example, the technology skills and systems requiring administration in a manufacturing environment will vary greatly from those needed and learned by IT professionals in the food service or banking industries. On the job experience thus often supersedes traditional education and allows for real world implementation of new technologies, skills and systems.