Recently there have been several interesting articles about the changing job landscape. This tectonic shift is being accelerated by large-scale movement in cloud computing and the aging IT population. There are two interesting sides to the conversation, both focusing on the dark clouds rolling in over the horizon. But, if we think about it critically, both aspects compliment each other.
Massachusetts's Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, who was recently honored for his leadership in STEM, stated, "Retirements are expected to deplete the science and technology workforce by 50% over the next decade."
I wrote about this topic back in April; in 10 to 12 years most the people I know in information technology, from infrastructure support to developers to IT leaders, will be near the end of their careers or retired. Scary! No really, it is very scary. A recent conversation I had with one of my colleagues reflects this sentiment; "I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Only a couple more years before I retire." Fortunately, if history serves us right, when the market place opens up due to the significant retirements (estimated at 10,000 to 12,000 a day for the next 12 years) there will be a flood of ambitious young individuals diving into the IT job pool to take advantage of the burgeoning salaries. But will they have the skills required?
I am not just talking about technology skills, think about the skills required to be a successful IT professional. Soft skills like communication with customers, collaboration with IT colleagues and business partners, basic business skills to evaluate the cost effectiveness of a solution, IT governance, and understanding the volumes of process that embodies any corporate environment. I have worked with a lot of people over the years, and I can tell you that understanding the dynamics of working for a global organization is typically more daunting then learning the latest technology.
Generally speaking, this growing issue is becoming very apparent to many organizations. In a recent Computerworld article, David Brown from Bank of New York Mellon says, "We have people we will be losing who have a lot of business knowledge. That scares me." What really keeps him up at night is the thought that he may not be able to transfer the deep understanding of business logic embedded within the bank's programs before it walks out the door with employees who retire.
I encourage you to watch this STEM video produced by Ratheon on America's STEM challenge:
The video states that by 2014, 2.5 million STEM jobs will be created. There is going to be a shortage of talent and the job market is going to be very competitive. Operational support costs for companies are only going to accelerate because of the premium talented staff are going to command.
If companies are unable to find the talent needed to keep their infrastructures running, third-party service providers are ready to provide the expertise.
Move to Service Providers
During a recent conversation with Joe Eiseman from the Lucas Group, he mentioned they were experiencing more request for IT technical professionals from service providers then traditional corporations. A glance at some of the major job search sites emphasis this point, nearly all the job listings are either service providers or technology companies. There are very few jobs in traditional business sectors for IT professionals. Companies in the finance, insurance, healthcare, or business sectors have learned to operate with very lean staffing levels because of the anemic economic conditions over the past 4 years, that is not going to change.
Computerworld's article on the IT Skills: Jumping The Chasm echoes this feeling, "Even as IT employees and managers begin to polish skills that grew rusty during the recession, a much more dire situation awaits them. An increasing number of forward-thinking CIOs, employment experts and analyst are convinced the current skills gap isn't just a hiccup. In the long run, they assert, there will be fewer pure technology jobs in corporate america. As companies of all sizes opt to tap service providers for their IT needs, corporate IT departments are shrinking."
Cloud computing is hastening this change. Choice and freedom to pick services from a private or public cloud portfolio provides agility, flexibility, and cost effectiveness; however it also introduces a significant amount of complexity most corporations don't have the skill set to handle. These skills are dramatically different from traditional IT. Take a look around the New England landscape and you will see the growth in small service providers that are offering expertise on datacenter management and cloud computing, they are thriving as companies start to offload their infrastructure support.
In the next decade, I think partnering with a service provider is going to become a necessity for most companies; simply because their is going to be a shortage on talent. That doesn't mean jobs aren't going to be available, quite the opposite, they are going to shift to service providers that support the pure technology and companies will focus on business process knowledge and becoming cloud brokers.
In my opinion, I think the move to service providers' will compliment the future talent drain. Sometimes those storm clouds overhead provide the rain that germinates the soil of transformation. Although change can be ominous, it can spring to life new opportunities for both employers and employees.