About the Developer Shortage Across the U.S.
For nearly a decade, IT professionals, namely software engineers, have been at the top of the hardest-to-fill positions lists in the United States. With the demand predicted to grow three times by 2020, it is rather difficult to imagine how companies will keep up with consumer demand.
Prospective engineers have been applying to open positions, but they are either not initially qualified or not being retained. Employers are trying to find engineers to keep up with demand while trying to retain their top talent. However, engineers are still exploring new job opportunities, resulting in perpetual churn.
There are many factors to consider when looking at why.
Many believe location is a big issue – “Most tech jobs are in Silicon Valley, right?” Nope. In fact, 89% of software developers work outside of Silicon Valley. Thanks to continuous demand and fierce competition, the most powerful tech companies are looking for developers in virtually every region of the country.
Currently, there are nearly a quarter-million unfilled job openings relating to engineers — 223,474, according to an informal search performed through Indeed. Supply simply isn’t meeting demand. This is due to many factors, but the 5 top challenges employers encounter are listed below:
Lack of Experience
The shortage is definitely not due to a lack of quantity, or individuals calling themselves engineers; the issue is quality. There is lack of well-studied, experienced engineers with a formal and deep-rooted understanding of software engineering.
Lack of hard job/technical skills
A software engineer is a problem-solver. They use methodical applications of computer science to solve these problems and are paid to do so. Therefore, it is imperative they understand the methodology needed to translate ideas into something a machine can understand. Additionally, they not only implement the ideas of others, they need to be the originator of ideas.
High Salary Demands
Companies need to hire extraordinary people who also respect their employer’s rules and values. Therefore, companies will end up paying up to 20% above market salary rates for new hires with specific, in-demand skills.
Thanks to ongoing demand, the average national salary is now more than $100,000 ($104,425, to be exact). In many areas, these jobs earn twice the average regional salary.
Lack of soft skills/workplace competencies
Soon, a four-year computer science degree will no longer suffice. Engineers need to be able to speak to the business. In order to capitalize on their employees’ soft skills and business acumen, companies need to reevaluate goals and incorporate non-traditional backgrounds for software development careers. The company’s culture should shine through the most senior, skilled, competent employees.
Lack of Formal Engineering Education
Even though 58% of all new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs are in computing, only 14 states have adopted computer science standards. Based on a study done by The App Association, just 13.2% of high schools across the U.S. offer any sort of AP computer science programs. That’s barely one in eight.
Needless to say, students who have not been challenged to write software during their high school campaigns simply don’t have the skills required to pursue a computer science major in college. This translates to colleges and universities graduating less than 30,000 new computer science majors each year – it will take nearly eight years to fill available roles at that rate.
How to Mitigate the Shortage
Instead of providing on-the-job training, small- and medium-sized companies want employees to hit the ground running. Unfortunately, the skill sets that allow them to do their job effectively are not being taught at school. This is a global issue. Companies demanding engineers of this nature are accelerating the talent shortage and skyrocketing salaries.
There are a couple things companies can do to strengthen their current talent pool though.
Companies can recruit up-and-coming talent who can be cultivated and mentored through internal or external development programs. If companies acquire new talent who require additional formal training, they can provide education incentives along the way.
The hybridization of ideas, hands-on development, and collaborative problem-solving only strengthens the entire organization. Ultimately, this leads to products customers love and adopt, which increases morale among developers who realize the true value of their work.
Retain Top Talent
Employee retention and overall productivity will improve. As demand continues to skyrocket, including alternative resources to contribute to the development lifecycle is a winning strategy for the company’s overall effectiveness.