Offshoring May Be Overblown; IT Shortage Is Too

By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2008-11-17

There is a good post on TechRepublic reporting on the Society of Information Management's recent IT trends study that makes the case for there possibly being more hype than reality when it comes to offshoring. The basic argument is that as a measure against the total of IT budgets, offshoring is still a minor piece of IT management on an annual basis.

These are very good points on offshoring and ones that are likely to heat up as economic pressures continue to press upon what most have categorized as an economy that has affected IT very little up to this point. U.S. government data has suggested as much all year.

That seems to be changing with Sun layoffs and just about every tech company from Intel, SAP, EMC and others all revising their numbers for 2008 while lowering their expectations for 2009. I don't think there is anyone now who doesn't think IT will have cuts like every other industry. The question is--how deep will they go?

The issue I take with the TechRepublic post, however, has to do with claim that the IT labor shortage is real and not overblown. Baseline did some coverage earlier in 2008 that looked closely at the numbers around the IT labor shortage, and the conclusions were that when looking at the macro level, an IT labor shortage is highly suspect. Academic experts from Duke University and Rochester Institute of Technology called a time out on the facts as wages haven't risen as a result, claims to Congress by Bill Gates and Craig Barrett haven't been scrutinized, and there is a disconnect between hiring recruiters knowledge for IT jobs and candidates real, transferable skills. Read the explanations in the in-depth Baseline article and see how you think about it after.

With that said, that doesn't completely end the discussion on specific shortages within technology jobs. When you get in to specific IT shortages the few places that recruiters always pitch us are SAP application experts, SOA/web services, security and IT managers with business adaptability. These are not easy skills to find, necessarily, and I imagine you probably need a good chunk of experience in the technologies underlying application development to begin with (not to mention team management experience). Whether it be issues with H1-B workers and policies, offshoring or technology layoffs, the discussions and scrutiny of technology jobs are likely to increase in 2009.

Here are the tech skills in demand in the fourth quarter of 2008 according to Robert Half Technology. Also, be sure and check out this CIO Insight reader's post on why companies aren't willing to train employees enough (and that there is a disconnect between what they say and what they do.)

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