After reading the information technology association of Americas recently released third annual report on the state of the IT work force last week, I couldnt escape the nagging feeling that something wasnt quite right. On one hand, the ITAA said 2001 was an unnatural disaster in the IT labor market. Recession-spooked employers cut 528,496 U.S. IT jobs.
Thats bad news for IT professionals. But its good news for employers that for years have been chronically whining that they arent filling open jobs because they cant find IT workers with the right skills. With a half-million freshly laid-off IT pros on the market, problem solved, right?
Apparently not. The ITAA report also said that, despite all the layoffs, employers expect they still wont be able to find IT people. In fact, the report said, although companies expect their need for more IT workers will rebound over the next 12 months, many of the newly opened positions will remain unfilled because, you guessed it, potential hires with the right skill sets cant be found. Of the aggregate 1.1 million IT jobs expected to open over the next 12 months, the report said, 578,711 will go unfilled. (See related story at www.eweek.com/links.)
I dont buy the so-called skills gap as the reason enterprises arent hiring IT workers. The skills are there, but enterprises are determined to squeeze more productivity out of current employees. In fact, the same week the ITAA issued its report, the U.S. Department of Labor said that, in the first quarter of this year, hiring freezes meant labor costs as a percentage of output took their largest single quarterly drop in nearly 20 years.
That will make shareholders happy, but I wonder if its coming at a very dear price: the self-esteem of laid-off IT workers who are continually told they dont have the “right skills” and burnout for those IT workers who are still employed.
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