Tech Skills Gap

What You Need to Know About the Growing Tech Gap

By DeVry University

There's a good news-bad news scenario at play right now. On one hand, the demand for workers with tech skills continues to soar. On the other hand, “78% of employers are having trouble finding candidates,” according to Alexandra Levit, chair of the Career Advisory Board. The need for tech skills is expanding and becoming increasingly important for everyone in every role at every business —across all industries.

At the SXSWedu Tech Skills Gap Panel Discussion in Austin, Texas, Levit joined three additional speakers: Robert Paul, President of DeVry University; Randi Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media; and Sara Ley, digital learning and technology leader at General Electric offered an intriguing look at today's surprising tech gap. To better understand the problem and its solutions, consider the following five key points and the opportunity that this gap offers. 

1. The Gap Exists Across All Industries

When you hear "tech skills gap," do you think of skills traditionally associated with information technology firms like coding, network security management and software development? While there's a gap in those types of hard skills, the gap in applied skills reaches across all sectors. This affects everyone from actors to healthcare workers to business professionals.

Applied tech skills aren't specific just to the technology sector, but to all industries. These essential skills include the ability to use technology to benefit the organization, but people with these skills aren’t necessarily those responsible for deploying it in the workplace. “If you are working at any organization in the 21st century,” says Levit, "you are required to have applied tech skills." That's a gap that many people didn't anticipate, and it's also an amazing opportunity.

2. Demand Outpaces Supply

More than 500,000 computing jobs are open across the nation, but fewer than 43,000 students graduated with a computer science background in 2016. And that's just in IT alone. It doesn't take the empty positions across other fields, such as healthcare and business, into consideration.

A 2016 DeVry University study, "Technology Skills Gap Research," asked 500 hiring managers and senior-level executives to reflect on the gap. The responses reveal that:

  • 62% of students coming out of school aren't prepared with the necessary tech skills
  • 11% agree that school is effective in meeting skill needs
  • Three out of four employers feel that find a hired employee with all job description requirements is rare

3. Employees Aren't Staying on Top of Evolving Technology

Once you're hired, you need to keep up, considering the rapid pace at which technology evolves. However, 44% of hiring managers indicate that employees aren't keeping up with the skills needed to utilize evolving technology, and only 15% agree that employees actively seek out available training.

As industry pros begin addressing the gap, you can expect to see educators and employers working together to help students and employees adapt to using advanced technology, such as the Internet of Things, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, web architecture and network and information security — all of which are emerging and changing at a rapid pace. To make it easier for employees to keep their skills sharp and fresh, employers can create environments conducive to continuing education. 

4. Educators Must Create Solutions

It's not only on the shoulders of employers and employees. Educators, institutions and industry advisors need to work together to create curriculums that meet today's demands, as Robert Paul notes. This will likely include movement toward an "anytime, anywhere" educational model to bring online and onsite opportunities together. Even more important is that educators who create industry advisory councils have unique opportunities to work directly with technology firms and employers to shape their curriculums according to what employers need.

5. Students and Employees Must Take Initiative

Advancing technology doesn't allow anyone to become complacent. As more and more businesses require workers with applied tech skills or the latest in hard skills, modern students and workers are tasked with keeping up to avoid falling into the gap. Employers and educators can only do so much; ultimately, it's up to you to stay on top of those skills needed to work with emerging technology. For those who see the gap as an opportunity, it's a great time to learn new skills and sharpen existing ones.

Brought to you by DeVry University, where we put technology at the core of our business, tech and healthcare education to help prepare students to solve the problems of tomorrow.

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