IT Reshoring News

September 28, 2013

Is the "tech skills gap" due to lack to talent...or are employers too picky?

Does a "technology skills gap" really exist? Or are employers simply ignoring the glut of qualified IT candidates in the U.S., in favor of cheaper H1B workers? One CIO writer thinks the gap is here, and huge. We're not so sure.
The Department of Labor reported 3.9 million vacant positions in the U.S. for June 2013. Yet unemployment is around 12 million, with about 10 million underemployed.

Why are there any vacant jobs?

Employers are saying there's a "skills gap", especially in technology fields like network security, network infrastructure and data analytics. These are critical fields for maintaining our businesses and protecting our private data.

A CIO.com.au piece cites a Microsoft study to support the skills gap idea. The study reported that 120,000 new jobs are created each year in tech-related industries. However, the U.S. education system only produces 49,000 graduates with the requisite technical skills to fill these jobs each year. A gap of 71,000 available jobs.

71,000 jobs against 12 million unemployed. Something doesn’t add up here.

Even if only 1% of the unemployed had technical skill sets, that would be 120,000 available workers. More than enough to staff the new jobs.

The article doesn't answer this question. Instead, it continues as if a "tech skills gap" does exist, and the problem is on the workers' side, not any employer's.

However, workers are pointing fingers back at the employers. On a Dice post referencing the CIO article, readers commented about H1B visa use, low salary offers and the sheer number of unemployed looking for work. The post itself added that overworking existing employees leaves them no time to update their skills for new technologies.

Due to these factors, they say employers are making unreasonable demands for specific skill sets. They’re looking for "unicorn" candidates which just don't exist.

So who’s right? The economists and researchers who say we’re missing thousands of technical workers (and may then have to import them from overseas)? Or the business pros & unemployed technical workers who say the data ignores several important factors?

Finding qualified workers IS difficult at times. Newer technologies take time to learn, and not everyone has the work ethic to do so. But we maintain that the U.S. has plenty of skilled workers who could, and should fill those 120,000 new jobs each and every year.

Also, consider this: The average upfront cost to hire one H1B employee is over $5,000. The major tech companies say that they would love to hire U.S. tech workers if they were qualified. How much training would $5,000 provide, if they were to take U.S. tech workers whose skills were out of date, and provide in-house training?

Recouping such an investment is simple—just require a minimum term of employment (e.g. 2 years) following training. Our tech base is kept up-to-date, and we have all the workers we need without needing to look overseas.