IT Skills Shortage: The Other Critical Cliff Facing Enterprises
Harvey Nash plc uses a combination of U.S.-bred talent, immigrants and outsourcing to fill overflowing demand, Miano said. "Over 50 percent of my contractors are H-1B" to fill in gaps in .NET, Java, C++, SQL and other areas. We have to either grow more here, import more or outsource. You only have three options." And what about the other cliff—concerning the federal budget? As the hour glass runs out and there's "little real effort under way to avert automatic budget cuts that take effect" March 1, politicians, businessmen and others consider the implications on the job market and the economy, according to a Feb. 27 article The New York Times. If the U.S. economy, now recovering slowly, fell into a recession, "there would still be a need to replace people in IT—but for utility-type functions. However, innovation would suffer," Miano told eWEEK. "During the recession of 2008, we still had to import H-1Bs. In 2008 and 2009, for example, we did not focus much on digital media. If we don't move on [new technologies], other countries will take the lead." Uncertainty has made business planning difficult, Alice Hill, managing director of career and recruiting site Dice.com, told eWEEK in an email. "There's still growth and opportunity, but not as much as there could be if we didn't have this question hanging over our heads. One brighter spot is cyber-security where government budgets are a little more secure, so that area is less likely to be affected," she wrote.Fiorina sees "room to cut" inefficiencies. "If people manage smartly through this process," she told eWEEK, "it doesn't need to have such an impact on the economy or the people." Overall, Fiorina expressed optimism about the long term. "The 21st century is unlike any other in human history," she said. "This is the first time where any person anywhere can get any piece of information that they want. This is a brave new world. The 21st century will be defined by brain power."
However, Hill explained, technology is integral to defense, and military contractors, particularly small ones, are apt to feel the pain of cuts because they depend more on government awards than large, diversified companies.