Tech & Work

IT skill shortage: Where's the hard evidence?

Where is the hard evidence that there aren't enough skilled IT workers in the market to fill industry demand?

It seems that everywhere you look these days there is some industry pundit or executive telling us that there aren't enough skilled IT workers in the market to fill industry demand. But where is the hard evidence of this assertion?

Some groups — including economists, academics, and industry experts — are starting to challenge the statement. Baseline Magazine writer Ericka Chickowski talks about what some people are doing to find out the real story. Her latest piece talks about one effort, led by Vivek Wadhwa, a professor for Duke University's Master of Engineering Management Program and a former technology CEO. Chickowski quotes Wadhwa:

"This whole concept of shortages is bogus, it shows a lack of understanding of the labor pool in the USA."

In one study, Wadhwa and his group asked HR professionals a number of questions that would determine their experiences with the issue of availability of qualified workers. What they conveyed was very different from their executive's opinions on skills shortages, showing there was no lack of qualified applicants.

Chickowski says this study is backed up by other studies conducted by RAND Corporation, The Urban Institute, and Stanford University.

Also, according to the article, one expert poured over data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and concluded that:

...the United States has consistently graduated more than enough computer scientists and engineers to fill the IT jobs available in the country.

Similarly, he has seen no unemployment rates to indicate any kind of IT worker shortage.

So what's the deal on this? Do you think this IT skill shortage mantra is a deliberate attempt to mislead? If so, what are the motives behind it?


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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