Boomers in IT: Will the Talent Shortage Affect Techies?1 | 2 |
Cisco is offering similar internships for its existing technicians, allowing them to intern for Cisco Partners after one year of attending their Networking Academy. This unique program teaches the intern not only technical skills, but business and other soft skills as well. Microsoft has created programs to develop skilled workers in high risk populations.
How to Fill the Looming Skills Gap
While the statistics certainly present a bleak forecast of the future IT workforce, there is still hope that the crisis can be prevented. Companies can help head off the crisis by adopting some of these succession planning strategies:
- Train and promote from within: By far the most important thing employers can do to prevent the coming IT skills crisis is continue to educate their workforces. Companies need to identify who within the organization is going to be retiring within the next several years and train someone within the organization to replace that employee. This involves mentoring, coaching and real-world testing (e.g., when the future retiree goes on vacation, the potential replacement employee fills in for the week). Kansas City-based Truman Medical Centers recently launched a program to identify people who are ready to be promoted into roles with greater responsibilities. Eleven people were paired with executive mentors and were required to complete a strategic real-world project.
- Retain older workers: According to the Buck study, 93 percent of aging workers want to remain in the workforce, either full time, part time or through consulting (mostly for financial reasons). According to Gordon, “companies need to retrain older workers in new technical skills sets.”
- Find and train new talent from depressed industries: Many sectors of the economy are currently experiencing a slump: the mortgage, pharmaceutical and automotive industries, just to name a few. Companies from fields such as these are filled with qualified individuals, who, with a little technical training, can be huge assets in the IT arena.
- Offer recruitment bonuses: Nothing talks like money. Offer existing employees a bonus for landing a new recruit. Companies that offer $4,000 or more in referral money have had tremendous success in filling badly needed positions.
- Look beyond the IT industry for new recruits: According to WorldNetDaily, the coming labor shortage “will be so severe that employers will be offering IT training to non-IT personnel in order to fill the critical jobs they cannot fill with experienced tech workers. In fact, this trend has started already in some of the Fortune 500 companies, where administrative assistants are being sent to computer training to handle some of the systems administration tasks that would normally be handled by the IT department.”
- Attend college career fairs: While tech giants like Microsoft, Cisco and HP are recruiting talent at college and other career fairs, the presence of smaller- and medium-size companies is virtually nonexistent. If young people are told the true story about opportunities in IT, they may begin entering the field again in numbers reminiscent of the ’90s.
- Find partners: There are plenty of online forums that provide marketplaces for locating contract IT workers. Massachusetts-based OnForce.com allows companies to find qualified IT professionals throughout the U.S. Since starting in 2004, the company has already completed more than 500,000 work orders.
There is no denying the next two decades will present challenges to firms seeking continued growth during an expected IT worker shortage. These challenges, however, will present unprecedented opportunities for those IT professionals wishing to move up within the IT ranks, as well as those wishing to enter the field for the first time. If companies begin their succession planning now and utilize new techniques for finding fresh IT talent, the looming crisis can be avoided, or at least result in a soft landing.
Matt McGrath is senior education consultant and certification specialist at Kansas City, Mo.- based Centriq Training. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.