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IT Staffing Shortage and the Rural Solution

February 2, 2017

It’s no secret that the IT industry is growing, but what you may find surprising is by how much and how fast.

Take the big data and analytics market for example. In their “Worldwide Semi-Annual Big Data and Analytics Spending Guide” released October 2016, global market research firm IDC predicted that the big data and business analytics market will grow from $130 billion by the end of 2016 to $203 billion by 2020 and at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.7%. Considering that the market was worth around $112 billion in 2015, we are looking at explosive growth over a relatively small period of time.

As markets grow, so does the need for highly skilled, upper-level IT talent. But according to the 2016 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey here’s the problem: CIOs are hindered by the greatest technology skills shortage since 2007, when the sub prime mortgage crisis triggered the Great Recession.

By 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings. Additionally, projections show that colleges/universities will more than likely not produce enough graduates to fill even 30% of those openings, which is certainly not good news for the U.S. economy.

Also problematic for CIOs, is that close to 65% of those surveyed say that they believe that the lack of talent will prevent them from keeping up with the change of pace of technology—a pace that’s constantly changing and evolving. And one where demand for new technology expertise is necessary for organizations to keep and attract customers, increase productivity, build revenue and thereby stay competitive.

Getting Creative to Fill the Upper-Level IT Gap

In our digitally enabled world, the demand for high-level IT talent is greater than ever, but as referenced above, finding it is a major challenge.

Analysts Helen Huntley and Allie Young, in a recent Gartner report called, “Service Providers are Waging War Against U.S. Talent Shortage With Unconventional Methods”, summarized the impact of the IT talent shortage this way:

An apparent lack of IT talent is impeding the success of service providers that are currently expanding or wish to expand their onshore talent, or are new entrants to the domestic, onshore market. As a result of the IT shortage, service providers who are not using creative methods to attract and retain IT resources will be viewed as less competitive and their market growth will be inhibited.

So what are some of those creative methods that can be leveraged to attract and attain highly skilled IT talent? According to the findings in the report, they are:

  • Affiliations with colleges and universities
  • Investments in diversity programs
  • Non-traditional resourcing methods

Out of these, non-traditional methods—as called by Gartner— show the most promise to achieve the scale to meet the demand. To that end according to the report, organizations need to invest in creative, data driven methods for expanding the talent pool and identifying high-level talent that may be otherwise undervalued. Where this talent can be found is in related industries with a similar technological mindset or perhaps even in business units within your organization.

Leveraging Rural Outsourcing Services to Effectively Manage Talent

Finding and hiring high-level IT talent is only one part of the “problem.” The other is keeping them. And outsourcing is a strategy to help solve them.

Outsourcing takes away the many low-level menial tasks that distract high-level talent from focusing specifically on the work you hired them to do and that you are more than likely paying them handsomely for.

To get a better idea of where IT outsourcing is headed, take a look at these findings from the 2016 Harvey Nash/KPMB CIO Survey:

  • Fundamental change is the reason for outsourcing; companies are primarily outsourcing for skills and flexibility and not to save money
  • 50% of CIOs will increase their investment in outsourcing in 2016
  • In the last five years, organizations where the majority of the IT workforce is contingent has grown by 33%
  • One in ten CIOs at small organizations will rely on contingent staff for more than three quarters of their team

As the technology industry continues its pattern of explosive growth, the need for outsourcing lower-level tasks from higher-level talent will be even greater than it is today. Look at outsourcing as a strategy for protecting the investment you have made in your talent and the value that it can bring to helping you stay competitive and grow revenue. And look at outsourcing rurally to keep jobs where they belong—on American soil—where they can help grow the U.S. economy and help local communities thrive.

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