IT Skills Gap: Undergraduate Skills Falling Short and "What to Do About It"

Joe Clabby authors a comprehensive overview on the SHARE website this week focusing on the issue of the IT Skills Gap. While the need for mainframe professionals remains high, for instance, the supply of young mainframers remains stubbornly short. Certainly, the supply of mainframers coming out of universities is hamstrung by a number of specific factors including an uninformed perception by students about the platform's ongoing importance, a dearth of curriculum and faculty covering the subject in many computer science programs, and a lack of outreach by industry into local computer science departments to foster both academic and internship focus. Clabby rounds out his documentation of this issue and in his concluding section offers some direction. For industry, which has the most to gain by increasing the qualifications of potential employees by working with computer science programs, his observations throughout are solid and actionable.

Our universities generally seek to produce relevant and employable graduates, but industry needs to get proactive about aligning education with real-world technical needs. Why? Because even more generally than the mainframe, four out of 10 enterprise IT managers express a concern with the level of preparedness of recent IT grads and half report "notable" gaps in IT skills. This was documented by a broadly-based survey conducted by our Unisphere Research group earlier this year among 376 employers and, given the rising cost of a four-year undergraduate degree, it is a shocking finding. It is particularly poignant at this time given that 60% of the companies indicated they are planning to hire programmers and developers during the course of 2011 - and it raises the question of precisely how we are deciding to train the next-generation workforce in enterprise IT here in the United States. You can find the Executive Summary of the study at the SHARE website here and SHARE members can download the full 45-page report here.