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The midyear state of the IT job market

Rich Hein | June 19, 2015
The tech market is booming and that's good news for today's tech workers. Employers, CIOs and IT leaders, however, are facing many challenges. We spoke with David Foote, from Foote Partners, to help companies identify, avoid and overcome these obstacles.

IT skills gap remains

You've been hearing about the IT skills gap for a while now and it's no surprise, according to Foote. There will always be skills gaps as labor and skills traditionally lag behind innovation and new technology by 6-12 months. There are definite areas within IT currently feeling that gap like cloud services for example.

"There simply aren't enough people to manage in this fairly new world where we've really adopted en masse Paas, Saas and Iaas," says Foote. "The skills gap is shifting to different classes of workers - architects; analysts; program, project and vendor relationship managers; software engineers; and a variety of technical specialization," says Foote.

However, he continues, organizations are also to blame for failing to integrate business strategy with IT labor planning and forecasting. Companies need to do a better job planning for staffing requirements and growing their talent internally. "A lot of times companies just don't think about growing talent. They're not thinking about what they are going to need going forward so they're always in this perpetual problem," says Foote.

IT needs better workforce plans

The pace of change happens too quickly for employers to keep up, and they aren't using the lessons learned elsewhere, Foote says. "Architecture principles and practices have been successfully applied to technology planning and acquisition for decades, with budgets and execution generally tied to accurate, well-thought-out forecasts and analyses including integration strategies with legacy systems. But employers have not applied the same practices to analyzing, developing, and/or acquiring skills and talent. This has widened the skills gaps in recent years and created demand for a contingent workforce of consultants, contractors and other temporary workers."

Organizations looking to build a better strategy should do so within the framework of a human capital architecture, he says, and these are the areas where they need to focus their attention.

Hot skills areas within IT

Cloud

According to Foote, no conversation about the current hot skills in IT is complete if you don't mention the cloud, and recent data highlights that fact. In Foote Partner's ITSCPI, cloud skills investments have done well:

  • 59 cloud-related certifications and noncertified skills gained 1.3 percent in value in 2014 and 7.8 percent in the last two years.
  • In 2015, they've done even better: 63 certified and noncertified cloud related skills rose 1.3 percent in just three months (compared to 1.3 percent for all of 2014).
  • 33 noncertified cloud skills alone gained 3 percent for the 1st quarter 2015.

Big Data

"Big data capabilities are just too critical for staying competitive. They've expanded in popularity from a few industries to nearly every industry and market," says Foote.

Early 2014, big data skills were losing ground as premium pay decreased. In fact, within the ITSCPI, 58 big data related skills and certifications declined an average 4.7 percent in the last three quarters of 2014. To see what was driving this, Foote Partners interviewed more than 200 employers. "Among our major findings: widespread dissatisfaction with the return on their sizable advanced analytics investments. Interviewees cited organizational and cultural barriers related to transparency, data governance and sharing of data enterprise-wide," says Foote. Those interviewed also cited understaffing in the type of sophisticated big data skills and experience necessary to analyze their structured, semi-structured and unstructured data.

 

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