A lack of available tech talent is the no. 1 obstacle keeping CIOs globally from achieving their objectives, according to a recent Gartner survey, with the biggest organizational skill gaps found around big data, analytics, and information management. With an estimated 1 million computer programming jobs in the US expected to go unfilled by 2020, many companies are turning to nontraditional candidates and internal training to fill tech job gaps.
We surveyed the TechRepublic CIO Jury panel about the impact of the tech talent shortage on their companies. When asked, "Has your company experienced difficulty finding talent with the right tech skills in the past year?" 10 technology leaders said yes, while two said no.
Arkadiusz Olchawa, IT director and CIO of travel website Itaka, reported trouble finding workers with adequate tech skills. "And it is even more difficult to find talent with the right mix of tech and business skills," Olchawa added.
Architecture design firm Payette looks for a mix of design technology application skills, which makes it difficult to find those with both programming and UX knowledge, said Dan Gallivan, director of information technology, who was not part of the CIO Jury this month. "It's also very competitive when we do find the right candidates—seems like they are receiving multiple offers to choose their employers," Gallivan said.
SEE: IT Hiring Kit: Programmer (Tech Pro Research)
In some cases, talent is available, but it comes at a cost, said Dustin Bolander, CIO of Technology Pointe, who was not part of the CIO Jury this month. Austin, where Technology Pointe is based, is "extremely competitive right now," Bolander said. "We're having to offer top benefits like fully paid health insurance to compete."
The problem is especially prominent in the healthcare industry, according to Inder Davalur, group CIO at KIMS Hospitals Private Limited. "Hospitals can never match the compensation that a startup or a tech company can offer," Davalur said. "This will continue to be one of the bigger challenges for hospitals in my opinion."
Public schools face the same trouble, said Robert Cireddu, director of technology at the Madison Local School District in Ohio. "We have had problems hiring technology talent for years because of our inability to pay competitive salaries in the market," he said. "We have had to turn to nontraditional and internal training for years."
In his IT leadership team of four, Cireddu added, only one has a degree in an area related to IT—the rest learned on the job. The team's most recent hire has a degree in fine art, and will be trained internally—at a much lower cost than hiring a recent computer science graduate.
"The key to nontraditional hiring and internal training successfully is the same as any other: Hiring the right people, giving them the proper training, giving them permission to fail in learning, and, finally, the independence and latitude to succeed," Cireddu said.
Michael Spears, CIO and chief data officer at the National Council on Compensation Insurance, said that his company found a similar workaround for the talent shortage. "In the last year, we've have good success hiring at lower levels, growing skills internally, and promoting from within," Spears said. "On the other hand, with the expected talent gap by 2020, we'll likely need to make some adjustments to our approach to make sure we can continue to attract the right people for hard to fill jobs."
This month's CIO Jury included:
Mike S. Ferris, global IT director of infrastructure, Lincoln Electric
Simon Johns, IT director, Sheppard Robson Architects LLP
Shane Milam, executive director of technology infrastructure services, Mercer University
N'Gai Oliveras Arroyo, IT director, Office of the Comptroller of Puerto Rico
Michael Spears, CIO and chief data officer, National Council on Compensation Insurance
David Wilson, director of IT services, VectorCSP
Robert Cireddu, director of technology, Madison Local School District
Arkadiusz Olchawa, IT director and CIO, Itaka
Gene Richardson, COO, Experts Exchange
Inder Davalur, group CIO, KIMS Hospitals Private Limited
Cory Wilburn, CIO, Texas General Land Office
Michael R. Belote, CTO, Mercer University
Want to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury and have your say on the top issues for IT decision makers? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director, or equivalent at a large or small company, working in the private sector or in government, and you want to join TechRepublic's CIO Jury pool, click the Contact link below or email alison dot denisco at cbsinteractive dot com, and send your name, title, company, location, and email address.
- Become a Web Developer from Scratch (TechRepublic Academy)
- Six ways to fix the IT skills shortage (ZDNet)
- 5 ways your company can find and retain more tech talent (TechRepublic)
- How robots are filling worker shortages, replacing 'bad' jobs, and making work more rewarding (ZDNet)
- Rise of tech jobs outside of Silicon Valley means better training is needed to fill positions (TechRepublic)
Alison DeNisco is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO and the convergence of tech and the workplace.