March 4, 2016, Washington, DC - This month the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 7.8 million Americans are unemployed, while at the same time 5.6 million jobs remain unfilled in America. This crisis exists because employers demand “job ready” employees and prospective employees are simply not able to bridge the skills gap without appropriate education and training.
APSCU’s fourth look at the shortage of skills in America examines the skills gap currently facing the information technology sector.
If one wants a career where demand far exceeds the rest of the economy, and where median wages are far higher than average pay the information technology sector is the place. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics most recent data, software developers are projected to grow by almost 19% over the decade of 2014 to 2024. At the same time, all computer occupations are projected to grow by over 13% -- more than double the projected growth of 6.5% for all occupations. At the same time these jobs produce median wages that are very good. The average for computer occupations is $79,420 while the median wage for software developers is $95,510.
With regular headlines on high-profile security breaches at the highest levels of government and business, it is not surprising that demand for trained cyber security professionals is one of the fastest growing occupations where technology and a specific occupational knowledge combine to produce incredible new job demand. But companies are experiencing the “largest human capital shortage in the world” as they try to keep up with evolving technologies and security needs, according to one senior industry figure.
“Over the past few years, we have diversified our programming in an effort to create a STEM pipeline to prepare students to meet global challenges,” said Jason Pistillo, president and CEO of University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, AZ. “To address demand, we have launched many emerging programs such as Digital Maker and Fabrication, Business Technology and continue to run one of the oldest and most respected cyber security programs in the nation. We now place our graduates in over 41 states.”
Employers are struggling to find qualified people to fill vacant information technology and cyber security positions, largely due to a shortage of certified professionals. A 2015 Burning Glass report stated that in 2014 alone, employers in the US posted nearly 50,000 jobs requesting a CISSP – one of the main cyber security certifications. However, only around 65,300 people in the country hold a CISSP, according to the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium’s July 2015 membership counts.
The problem is expected to worsen over the next few years – Financial Times recently reported that demand for cyber security experts across the globe is forecast to outstrip supply by a third by 2020.
“We have grown our Information technology programming at every one of our campuses,” said Lauren Weymouth of Ridley-Lowell Business and Technical Institute in Danbury, Connecticut. “We find that demand for qualified graduates remains high and our programs have strong placement.”
Private sector colleges and universities provide millions of students with the education and skills necessary to compete for jobs in high-demand occupations like cyber security and information technology. The quality vocational programs they offer will play an integral role in making sure America’s workforce can keep up with the sector’s growing demand.
As Burning Glass recently stated, "because cybersecurity jobs require years of training and relevant experience, skills gaps cannot easily be resolved though short-term solutions. Employers and training providers must work together to cultivate a talent pipeline for these critical roles."