Labor market tightens, but shortage continues

In a recent study of 500 large American corporations, the META Group Inc. found that businesses nationwide are struggling to fill 600,000 information technology jobs with people skilled in areas such as networking, database management, supply chain collaboration, business-to-business integration and commerce chain management.

That's down from the nearly 1 million vacancies posted in 2000, but coming in the midst of an economic downturn, it's indicative of the continuing shortage facing IT recruiters, said Maria Schafer, program director in META's executive services division.

"We expect the shortage to continue and be intractable," she said. "This is all exacerbated in the government domain because of the imbalance of skills available and because of a lack of a focused capability there to develop these skills."

And there's an even bigger problem looming, she said, because the baby boomers will soon begin retiring. And so far, little has been done to replace their skills, particularly where maintenance of legacy systems is concerned. Behind the baby boom is a "baby bust," Schafer said, so the market is looking at a 10-year shortage of IT skills before the supply catches up.

"We expect a continuing lag of around 15 percent between supply and demand over that period," Schafer said.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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