As the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed workers continue their downward trends in 2015, these trends create additional questions about high demand and highly skilled workers, such as IT workers. If the overall employment rate is 94.5 percent, what is the rate for those workers with highly desirable skills? As of this writing the employment rate for Information workers (the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ classification that generally includes IT) is 95.5 percent, one full percentage point higher than the overall employment rate.
Beyond the math, consider the context. Of the workers employed in the information fields, only 4.5 percent of them are available to hire without creating a ripple in the employment pool by hiring an already employed IT worker. Just as with any other resource, low levels of talent availability lead to price increases. This can be a win for IT workers while creating financial pressures for the organizations that hire them. The financial pressures can lead to alternative employment and production choices for organizations without budget flexibility to match employment offers or the budget capacity to hire experienced IT workers.
Hiring inexperienced IT workers increases product and project timelines which can reduce the return on investment (ROI) on any project and cause it to fall below the implementation threshold. When new products are not introduced or efficiency projects are cancelled, organizations fall further behind their competition as part of the oxymoron, a negative growth cycle. Essentially, the organization is doing IT work, but the work is not enough to ensure organization’s continued market relevance.
The cure for this condition seems apparent, even simple. Hire the right talent, pay them what they want, and prosper from their efforts. However, nothing in organization life is that simple. Organizations are collections of people with distinct cultures, functions, cycles, and processes make them unique. Not every worker fits in every organization. Where the worker pool is low, currently 4.5 percent of IT workers are not working, finding the organization fit becomes a greater focus.
The effort to ensure organization fit or find the right person to join an organization can create the impression of biases or worse, particularly where skill is the only requirement captured in a job description. However, employment requires more than skill, unless the work is temporary or output specific. Long-term employment includes a relationship between the many people that create an organization. All parties benefit from the efforts of all other parties.
Fortunately, IT workers were not born that way, they learned their IT skills. Therefore, organizations can train for the skills they need. To buffer hiring efforts that seek just the right mix of fit and skills from ending with a decision to wait until the worker pool increases, organizations can hire for fit, and then train for skill. This alternative approach also builds loyalty and reduces long term IT worker turnover. While the approach requires time, it is better than simply waiting for the IT worker pool to increase due to some unknown event. Perhaps most important, training your employees removes the wait and see barriers that are blocking your new market initiatives and efficiency projects.