eImpact Report

Talent Management -- the ability to consistently recruit, hire, train, and retain qualified people -- is a need that is shared by every American organization of every type. You need the right talent, whether you're picking teams for a game of kickball or selecting staffers to develop the next great app.  Indeed, the demand for talent exists irrespective of the sector, industry, size or nature of the entity -- and poses significant challenges regardless of the strength of the economy at any given time.

The universality of this challenge is reflected in any number of places:  PWC's Annual Global CEO Survey ("63% of CEOs are concerned about finding talent with the right skills"), Korn Ferry's Global Human Resources Officers 2019 Pulse Survey ("46% of respondents say that talent management is top strategic priority"), and the Society of Human Resources Management's 2019 Skills Gap Survey (83% of respondents report difficulty recruiting suitable candidates) are just a few.

While every company struggles with Talent Management, the needs are particularly acute with respect to tech jobs:

First, there is a huge number of unfilled tech roles across the country. Technology has become an integral part of every business, which means that both tech and non-tech companies struggle to meet their needs. The average annual number of unfilled tech roles since 2012 has been 2.4 million, and we expect to learn that this number ballooned to over 3 million in 2019. The average replacement rate for tech jobs is projected at 7.5% annually, or almost 600,000 jobs, meaning that the anticipated tech workforce needs will exceed 8.5 million by 2026.

Second, the concept of "degree inflation" -- the belief that individuals need a college degree is all-too-prevalent in the tech sector.  The requirement for 4-year degrees for roles that simply do not require them is self-defeating -- employers who do so shrink their pool of talent to the roughly 35% of the U.S. population that possess college degrees.

Third, far too many companies not only require 4-year degrees but also only recruit specific types of degrees from a limited number of colleges, which shrinks the talent base even further.

Fourth, state investments in education and training have not kept pace with the tech talent need.  Therefore, salaries rise from a much larger demand compared to available talent -- and it excludes entire populations who should have access to these open jobs.

All of the above have significant and widespread consequences, including: 

  • hindering the nation’s overall tech capabilities, productivity, and competitiveness on the global scene;
  • eroding the strength of the U.S. IT “ecosystem”; 
  • hampering individual companies’ access to the broadest possible pools of talent; 
  • impeding individual companies’ efficiency and growth because of the competition for the same narrowly-defined – and therefore shallow -- pool of tech talent;  
  • frustrating communities’ economic and workforce development efforts; 
  • preventing talented, experienced, non-degreed individuals from accessing jobs that provide a decent standard of living; and
  • disproportionately hurting underrepresented and/or underemployed populations (e.g., Blacks and Hispanics, age 25 years and older, etc.) with graduation rates lower than the national average.

In short, the traditional path to IT jobs is woefully failing to meet a demand that isn’t going away. While the coronavirus pandemic will have a significant impact on our nation’s economy and job market, we believe that the tech sector will take a lesser hit than will other sectors and that the tech job market will remain strong. The gap between available tech jobs and the number of college graduates qualified to perform these jobs will only continue to grow. 

Our national challenge, therefore, is to find new ways, outside the traditional college STEM path, to identify, train, and re-train the IT workforce of the future. Fortunately, WTIA’s Workforce Institute has identified a very successful and more practical path toward meeting organizations’ tech talent needs: apprenticeships. 

In short, our program 1) greatly expands the pipeline of new and existing talent, 2) helps equip that talent with the requisite skills, and 3) delivers that talent to organizations, all in about a quarter of the time it takes an individual to earn a STEM college degree.  It’s a solution worthy of another Michael Lewis (Moneyball, The Blind Side) book about the revolutionary benefits of taking a disruptive approach to the traditional identification of talent.  Learn more at www.apprenticareers.org.