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It is Time For Universities to Step Up: Tackling the Skill Shortage in Tech

The tech sector is increasingly changing and universities need to tackle the skill shortages issue.

The scarcity of software developers has made it more difficult than ever to find engineering expertise. We examine the facts and causes of IT talent shortages in the United States, as well as how international hiring might assist organizations in navigating a competitive domestic market.

According to the most recent US workforce statistics, there will be 1.4 million unfilled CS jobs by the end of 2020. Meanwhile, just 400K graduates are produced each year. If the country’s software developer shortfall continues to expand at its current rate, the government will face an unrealized output of $162 billion. Without new talent, business development and digital transformation are difficult, widening the gap between supply and demand for tech and big data skills.

The Tech Skill Gap

By 2022, the global skills shortfall will have reached 40 million skilled workers. The worldwide skills shortfall is expected to reach 85.2 million workers by 2030. Companies throughout the world are at risk of losing $8.4 trillion in revenue due to a shortage of competent workers.

The key reason for this is that, nowadays, the software supports 90% of all operations at almost every normal firm, so there is a shortage of tech experts able to provide excellent services. The main factors affecting the growing global skills shortage are the global market and technology advancements. According to a recent survey, 87 percent of businesses are either experiencing or anticipating to experience a skills shortage in the next few years.’

Regardless of industry, today’s skills shortage has made it difficult to locate talented labor. According to a McKinsey & Company survey, over 44% of well-known organizations predict a significant talent gap in the next five years. Unfortunately, 87 percent of these businesses are already feeling the effects of the scarcity and fear that the worst is yet to come.

According to the World Economic Forum’s “The Future of Jobs Report 2018,” at least 54 percent of employees will require significant additional training by 2022 to fulfill employment needs.

Similarly, the European Commission predicts that by 2020, they will be short of almost 750,000 information technology workers, despite increasing unemployment rates. These figures demonstrate the need for an improved educational system to prepare students for skills that may not yet exist.

A Higher Demand for Innovation Software

Even small businesses now require websites and applications to facilitate operations and consumer interactions. Even health insurance firms require software to manage enrollments and maintain all customer policies digitally.

Furthermore, the operation of many products on the market necessitates the use of specific software. As a result of the growing need for mobile-friendly apps and websites, software engineers are in high demand.

The limited life of Software Code

Companies are required to update their software on a regular basis due to the ongoing change in code. A code typically has a life of only a few years, and firms need the help of software developers to get a new one for a much-needed technological shift.

Advancements in Technology

While the epidemic may have prompted corporations to postpone investment plans for a while, they are now gradually reallocating their technology spending, resulting in an increase in demand for software engineers in the United States and around the world.

In addition, many venture capitalists are looking to invest in companies as a result of supply chain disruptions. Different firms have been convinced to hire more and more software developers as a result of this move.

Weak CS Education

Education is the most important factor that can assist solve the skill shortage problem. At the same time, education is the country’s biggest challenge as well. Few students are eager to seek tech employment, as only 13.2% of schools offer AP computer science classes. Seventy-seven percent of employment in the next ten years will demand tech abilities, and educators are already aware of this. More than 88 percent of teachers believe that computer science is essential for students’ future success.

Currently, two out of every ten professors admit that their pupils do not receive any computer science instruction. The lack of supportive educational programs and insufficient budget are the main causes of poor CS education in primary schools.

Challenges Regarding Tech Education

Unfortunately, creating educational programs for this IT boom is not as simple as it may seem to some. There are a number of factors that impact the success of students and the programs as a whole.

Support/Attrition

One of the biggest hurdles for training this new workforce lies within the student population. Attrition can be high, especially for students in online learning programs. Not only are many of them juggling work and education, but the material can be challenging. With a variety of learning styles, prior experience and knowledge, and on-the-ground support, many students may falter.

Disconnected Certification Programs and Learning Tools

In order to meet some of the ongoing demands for a well-trained workforce, many companies, such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and IBM, have created their own training and certification programs. These come with in-house expertise and front-line information, but may create an inconsistent and overwhelming learning experience without any way to tie the materials together or provide much-needed support.

Qualified Educators

We’ve already established that technology is evolving at dizzying speeds. It’s extremely challenging to build a cadre of educators who are both prepared to teach and qualified as experts in innovative technologies. The best candidates to teach are typically out in the field doing the work.

Curriculum Development/Rich Media

Even if educational institutions can find qualified educators, developing curriculum for fields that are constantly changing is no small feat. By the time the curriculum is written and tested, it could already be out of date. Employing proven educational strategies such as rich media and hybrid learning opportunities may fall outside of the skills and scope of many colleges and universities.

Solutions:

Industry-focused universities

Industry-focused universities are a solution to overcome the gap. The main aim of the graduates is to land a job in their relevant field as soon as they graduate, and that would only be possible if they have the knowledge and the skill desired by the industry. Instead of universities designing their curriculum as per usual, they should take advice from a board of advisors, which should include the people from different sectors and would also inform the industry which skills current students are lacking and which software or course should be taught for the industry to prosper and close the gap. Industry-based advisors help bridge the gap between the tech skill shortages that exist in the country. Instead of widening the gap and burdening the companies with skill training and additional time being lost, these skills must be taught in the universities.

Partnerships

Partnership with overseas institutions is another technique to bridge the gap between the shortage of skilled workers. Countries should try to produce valuable graduates in the technology industry instead of importing skilled workers, which might be expensive and not desirable for all companies because of the additional cost. In that case, local universities should sign a partnership with universities of such institutions so that the universities could share their curriculum and could also be able to share the valuable techniques through which they are producing such talented graduates in the field of technology. When signing a memorandum, institutions could also provide the institution with a few of their professors or instructors who could provide lectures for a few semesters and instruct the students. They could also teach the other professors so that the shortage of skilled professors and lecturers could also end.

Exchange program

An exchange program between universities is another valuable step that the university should be working on. The local students usually adopt exchange programs to avail knowledge and courses that are not available to the students in their universities. These opportunities are a good option for the students and suitable for the industry as students have international exposure and the knowledge that most local students do not have. Exchange programs are usually for a semester or two. The students typically do those courses that are not available in their home university; also, they could get hold of the industry knowledge of the country the exchange program is in. The advanced facilities and software available in other countries are also good options for students and the industry.

Internship Programs

An internship opportunity is another solution to work out the gap in the industry. When the student works in an internship, he would know the areas that the student is lacking, and the companies could also provide feedback to let the university know that these were some of the skills or knowledge that the students lacked, which need more grooming. An internship is like an audit for the university to see whether they have provided the accurate software skills and tech knowledge desired by the industry. Constructive feedback should be requested from the companies where internships are done, and a special department should be made where the students would be provided.

Institute’s career development office

Universities’ career development departments must play a critical role in bridging the gap between the industry and the graduates, conducting webinars and seminars for the students to provide them with additional knowledge. Seminars should include employers of the industry so that the students could enquire about their desired roles and the skills that they need. In the same way, employers of the industry could communicate the technological and software skills that they expect from the students. Students should be encouraged to attend such seminars as this would familiarize them with the industry’s current trends as well.

Tech Boot Camps

Tech Boot Camps are the most successful and the desired solution to the tech shortages. Bootcamp is a valuable tool, especially in software development, where the students and the employees must learn new software to survive in the industry. Bootcamps are not restricted to people with a particular background. But instead, it opens opportunities and learning skills for all those interested in this field without any prior experience of I.T. These are specifically created for those occupations where there is a large amount of skill shortage, and these directly to the needs of the industry. It gives the students additional skills with the given skill set that they already have. Those who attend these boot camps are more likely to have broader skill sets as the students are graduates of a different field of study trying to enter the tech industry. Bootcamps show more about the students’ capabilities as they are ready to take on challenges and show that they accept the challenges in the industry and adopt these changes. These are a few qualities that employers want from their potential employees.

Mentorship programs

Mentorship programs in the tech industry allow the students to know which technology they should opt for or an industry they should work in. Mentors are from the industry and have good technical knowledge of the industry, therefore could be a better guide for the student to help make decisions in career choices and job opportunities. It is essential in the tech industry to join a company where the skills are used in the correct manner and at the same time enhance the skills making them professional. Therefore, the best-suited companies related to the field must be chosen that are best suited for software development. So the mentors should guide them to the company where they should start their career growth. The universities should adopt all these solutions to overcome the shortages. This would help the industry and the graduates of the university to be competitive in the global market.

What is the root cause of this skill gap?

The problem originates from the fact that software development is continually changing despite professors’ best efforts. The industry changes so drastically year after year that it’s hard to keep up. It’s impossible to expect academic institutions and faculty to keep up with the industry’s rapid expansion while also carrying out their regular teaching and research duties.

As a result of this, a significant number of students majoring in computer science, while proficient in the foundations of operating systems or data analytics, have a limited understanding of emerging technologies in fields such as DevOps, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence. Therefore, despite more students enrolling in computer science schools, each graduating class is becoming increasingly out of sync with the industry’s most rapidly expanding subfields.

There is also a discrepancy in the way computer science students are educated. At most large companies, codebases contain millions of lines, but most college students never work with more than 1,000 lines of code at a time. The vast codebases that new engineers are confronted with at the start of their careers leave them with no understanding of how to solve problems. Furthermore, graduates often lack the soft skills required for success in the industry. The finest engineers in the market work well in teams and communicate well, yet computer science courses in colleges emphasize individual learning.

What can universities do to fill this gap?

Universities can build a bridge and fill this gap by taking several initiatives that other institutes have taken. For example:

  • Google and Howard University forged a revolutionary partnership in 2017 that allowed students to learn software engineering at Google’s headquarters. The three-month summer residency, originally known as “Howard West,” provided rising juniors and seniors in the university’s computer science program with dedicated work areas at Google’s Mountain View campus, a stipend to cover housing and other costs, and access to courses taught by Howard faculty and Google workers.
  • As part of last year’s expansion, Howard and Google included students from other historically Black and Hispanic-serving colleges and universities in the program.
  • One of the industry’s fastest-growing specialties, cybersecurity, has just been developed by City College of New York in partnership with Facebook to provide students an advantage in this highly sought-after field. Many community institutions in the area have also teamed up with the social media giant to establish industry-focused digital marketing and coding programs.
  • Amazon and Northern Virginia Community College have partnered up to launch a new degree program focusing on cloud computing. Twenty-five community colleges are now offering Google’s IT Support Certificate. Last year, the University of Maryland, Georgetown University, and the University of Richmond teamed together with firms like JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, and Under Armour to form an association to create greater digital talent in the Washington, D.C. area.

FAQs

Q: What strategies can help resolve shortage problems of tech workers and skills in the marketplace?

  • Universities should start boot-camps and make them compulsory for every graduating student so they come out ready for the skills needed in the practical world.
  • Hire in-house.
  • Tech organizations can start in-house training from time to time so that their employees are up to date with the current technical skills
  • Make use of the highly skilled gig economy.

Q: Why is there a talent shortage?

It is because, in industries that are heavily dependent on technology, there is a high demand for skilled professionals and a low supply available to fill positions.The world is changing with new technologies and trends emerging everyday. Millennials lack the managerial and technological experience to fill the voids left by their older counterparts, who have stepped down. The market has become highly competitive which has made it harder for organizations to retain their employees.

Q: Which industries are more likely to be affected by shortage of skilled labor?

Analysts in the labor market predict that “knowledge-intensive industries” like financial services, technology, media, telecommunications, and manufacturing are among the most vulnerable sectors.

Final Thoughts 

It is worrisome to be confronted with a talent shortage, but there are some steps that universities and companies can take to navigate through this disruption and difficult times. Competitive and selective hiring, done based on experience and qualifications, significantly impacts the pool of potential employees. This is one of the reasons why companies have a hard time finding the right people. Another factor in why it’s so tough to fill a growing demand for software engineers is a lack of qualified candidates.

Another way to put it is that there will always be a shortage of qualified IT experts. Therefore businesses need to consider other options before the problem significantly impacts their supply chains and operational processes. There’s an increasing demand for blockchain specialists. Academic institutions need to upgrade their curricula or introduce side activities like boot  students can graduate with polished, in-demand skills. 

 

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