IT Staff Shortage Poses a Challenge to Businesses

One in five companies have postponed or canceled projects due to IT staff shortages,  according to the CompTIA study.

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The challenge IT companies face in filling technical positions is likely to persist throughout 2015, according to a recent forecast released by industry trade association CompTIA.

The survey of nearly 650 IT companies found that 68 expect to face a challenging or very challenging hiring environment for technical positions this year.

"There is more demand for technology and technology is more accessible than ever. That makes the need for tech workers – educated, trained and certified – in demand, too," Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA told eWEEK. "We found that 43 percent of companies are currently understaffed. There are a lot of companies out there that feel that if they could add new workers they could expand, or backfill positions that have been open."

He noted that already strong demand will continue for security, software development and project management professionals.

Thibodeaux said these IT workers may be able to leverage their skills for better pay, promotion or new opportunities.

An estimated 4.8 million workers were employed in core IT occupations across all industry sectors, including government in 2014. This includes self-employed professionals and sole proprietors, according to CompTIA.

A net 43 percent of U.S. IT companies reported having job openings. Another 36 percent said they are fully- staffed, but would like to add new hires to support business expansion and growth.

One in five companies have postponed or canceled projects due to understaffing, according to the report.

"In a tight labor market, employers will have to consider all strategies and may need to be willing to make some tradeoffs," Thibodeaux said. "For example, there will be some challenges for employers based on geography. Companies may have to look beyond their immediate area just to tap into workers in markets where there is less demand."

He said employers will have to rely on a number of different strategies, especially for positions that are difficult to fill.

"In some cases, it may make more sense to retrain or up-skill existing workers to layer on additional skills," Thibodeaux explained. "Or, you may end up hiring a worker who may not be a perfect fit on day one, but with some level up training, can be up to speed fairly quickly."

The top five states for IT employment are California, Texas, New York, Illinois and Virginia. These figures often correlate to the size of the state’s economy and population, but not always.

For example, Massachusetts ranks 14th in population and yet ranks 6th for IT worker employment, primarily due to its Boston-based tech hub.

Thibodeaux noted a growing importance in IT support roles with an emphasis on networking and security skills rather than simpler break-fix skills.

"What this tells you is that this position is changing," he said. "There are more technologies, with more devices talking to one another. Maintenance is now much more sophisticated.”