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IT Workforce Trends: Insights Into Top Tech Jobs, Skills, and Turnover

     
April 10, 2018

For HR professionals, keeping up with in-demand tech jobs, skills, and trends can be incredibly demanding. Much like the technology they’re based around, IT jobs and employee skill sets within the technology space are constantly evolving. To remain competitive, you must pay close attention to factors and trends related to strategic recruitment and retention of technically minded employees. Here, you’ll find a helpful overview of many of these factors, plus some insights into how they’re set to impact the top tech jobs throughout North America in the months to come.

IT Talent Shortages and Job Recruitment Trends

Whenever HR professionals have difficulty filling vacant positions, it could be a sign of a talent shortage. Labor market talent shortages can lead to increased recruitment and retention costs for organizations as they scramble to attract increasingly limited human capital to their workforces. This past year, the average amount of time it took organizations to fill IT roles increased 3% to 3.4 months. Further complicating matters was a notable correlation this past year between many of the jobs that were reported as “very difficult” to fill, and the jobs that were predicted to be the most in-demand. For example:

  • Information Security Professional: This position was reported as the overall most difficult to fill —17% of organizations reported it as very difficult to fill. However, this is also predicted to be the second most-recruited job in the upcoming year.
  • Applications Systems Analyst/Programmer: This position was reported as the third most difficult to fill — 12% of organizations reported it as very difficult to fill. However, this position is predicted to be the number one most-recruited job in the upcoming year.
  • Network Engineer: This position was reported as the fifth most difficult to fill — 8% of organizations reported it as very difficult to fill. However Network Engineer is predicted to be the third most-recruited job in the upcoming year.

IT Skill Shortages and Recruitment Trends

It’s also important for organizations to monitor skill supply and demand within their industry so that a proper workforce is maintained. And — as with many top tech jobs — many technical skills that organizations identified as very difficult to recruit this past year are predicted to be among the most in-demand skills for the upcoming year. For example:

  • Architecture (e.g., Application, Data, Infrastructure, Security) Skills: These skills were most difficult to acquire, with 34% of organizations reporting them as very difficult to recruit. They were predicted to be the second most in-demand skills in the upcoming year.
  • Information Security (e.g., Cybersecurity and Forensics) Skills: These skills were the second most difficult to acquire, with 25% of organizations reporting them as very difficult to recruit. They were predicted to be the most in-demand skills in the upcoming year.
  • Business Intelligence/Information Analytics Skills: These skills were the third most difficult to acquire, with 18% of organizations reporting them as very difficult to recruit. They were predicted to be the third most in-demand skills in the upcoming year.
  • Cloud Computing Skills: These skills were fifth most difficult to acquire, with 12% of organizations reporting them as very difficult to recruit. They were also predicted to be the fifth most in-demand skills in the upcoming year.

This past year, the average amount of time it took organizations to fill IT roles increased 3% to 3.4 months.

To help combat these supply-and-demand disparities (for jobs and skills alike), an increasing number of organizations are offering extra compensation for high-value talent. While some companies priced a premium into their base salaries, others designed skills premiums through bonus programs. The latter approach is likely more effective, as it allows you to make changes to your individual eligibility over time as skill trends ebb and flow. Also, make sure to monitor market trends at least once a year to validate your current “hot skill” list against the market at large. This practice will ensure that your pay programs remain competitive, up to date, and responsive to changing business needs.

Turnover Remains Volatile for Tech Jobs

Employee-initiated turnover can occur for various reasons, such as new job opportunities, employee relocation, and even voluntary retirement. It’s important to understand the causes of your turnover so you can gain additional workforce insight and respond accordingly. After all, high turnover rates lead to increased replacement costs, missed business opportunities, and overworked employees.

Current trends show that both the US and Canada are each experiencing unique turnover rates for IT positions. Regarding Canada’s top tech jobs, the median voluntary turnover rate (including retirements) increased from 5.4% to 6.6% year over year. Excluding retirements, Canada’s median voluntary turnover rate increased from 4.3% to 4.5%. Meanwhile, in the US, the median voluntary turnover rate (including retirements) decreased from 8.1% to 7.0%. Excluding retirements, the voluntary turnover rate was 4.9% for this survey period. That 2.9% difference after excluding US-based retirements was higher than the level of change reported last year, suggesting an ongoing increase in retirement-related turnover occurring throughout the American IT workforce.

Not all voluntary employee turnover should be treated equally. For example, when you lose a seasoned member of your team (after, say, a retirement), then they can be very difficult to replace. On the other hand, some turnover can actually enable innovation and enhance the skills and capabilities of your remaining workforce. Every scenario is unique and demands a different response based on your historic turnover rates, the competitive market at large, and numerous other factors.

Building the IT Workforce of the Future

To find out more about IT-related turnover, new and emerging jobs, budget management, competitive bonus trends, and the most strategic ways to optimize your IT workforce, Mercer and Gartner’s collaborative US IT Jobs & Skills Survey: Building the IT Workforce of the Future or Canada IT Jobs & Skills Survey: Building the IT Workforce of the Future offers the most robust solution available. Using this comprehensive industry report, start building your IT workforce of the future immediately.