Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What's Really Behind The Talent Gap

It's been a long-running complaint that there aren't enough young people entering the IT field. But judging by the list of experience and skills some employers demand from IT job candidates, you have to wonder if young people just starting out their careers even have a shot at being hired.

Employers aren't just looking for folks with technical skills, they're seeking strong communication ability, business know-how, vertical industry background -- and, in many cases, hands-on experience with a variety of specific technologies and track records of successful deployments. It's one thing to seek the "full package" from someone who's been in the field for years, but much more difficult to find that in people newer to the profession.

So what does that mean? If there really is a shortage of the "full-package" people you're looking for, as employers you've got to be willing to help develop those folks. But apparently, many employers aren't willing to do that. Many companies just don't have the time, money, resources, patience, or vision to cultivate future talent. So, they'll look outside their organizations for ways to bring in "new" people quickly. Or they'll outsource. Or they'll seek foreign workers with H-1B visas. The problem with all of that is this: Often those people don't have all the "right stuff," either.

There's a big gap in what's going on. There's a mismatch in the demand for talent many IT organizations are seeking -- and the degree to which these companies are providing the appropriate training and career development opportunities to build up their bench strength internally. Plus, when it comes to younger folks entering the field, there also are disconnects between what many universities are offering to help these students "align business with technology" with what employers expect from tech workers today. Universities are slow to adapt.

What is your organization doing to nurture its IT talent?


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