“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception” – Aldous Huxley
Jason Hiner, Editor in Chief of the TechRepublic stirred up a hornets nest in his latest article entitled “Sanity Check:The IT Labor Shortage is Real and Offshoring is Overblown“. If you haven’t seen the article, I strong suggest you click on the link and read it. His article focuses on two major premises:
1. The I.T. Offshore Trend has been Overblown in the Media
2. The I.T. Labor Shortage is Real
We’ll address the first point in a later post. However, point number two is worth examining. Mr. Hiner gave a lot of facts and figures to back up his points. But a quick gander at the comments and you’d think he was personally attacking every I.T. worker in America. I mean the responses were abundant, visceral and angry.
The article states that: “CIOs say they are still having trouble finding enough domestic IT workers with the right mix of skills to fill the open positions that they are keeping at home”. The key part of that quote is the “right mix of skills”. In other words, we have openings, but we really want a combination of skills that’s going to be difficult if not impossible to find (because we know these combinations don’t exist overseas) because we’re trying to combine two to three jobs into one.
If you check out some of the comments (and there are lots of them), you’ll read a lot of stories about people who were turned down not because they didn’t have the core skills, but because they didn’t posses all the secondary specific skill sets that the employer would like to have. Then there were the stories of people that had the correct combination of skills, but didn’t take the job because of a low ball offer.
So, isn’t the real question: Is there an I.T. Labor Shortage, or is it just the perception of an I.T. labor shortage?
Apparently IT enrollment has trended down because of the dot-com bust and the fact that many students didn’t want to invest time and money to learn a career that was being outsourced overseas at a torrid pace. Secondly, we all know people who got out of I.T. during the last recession and jumped into other careers. And Finally, how many times have we been told that the baby boomers will blow a huge whole in the labor market once they start to retire?
Now consider this headline from a November 12 2008 article from MarketWatch: “Despite Slight Dip in October, IT Employment Continues to Outperform General Employment Market“. Basically the article states that I.T. employment has so far held up well during the current economic downturn.
So is there an I.T. labor shortage or not?
I believe the answer is no, there is no shortage, but there is the challenge of geography which can be overcome.
Everyday I try to fill jobs looking for very specific skill combinations. While these difficult combinations do exist, they may not exist in a commutable distance from the firm that needs them. For example, a financial firm in San Diego California may need a Charles River DBA and may not be able to find one because they just don’t exist in San Diego. However, there be an abundance of Charles River DBA’s in Omaha because that’s where most of the Charles River activity is located. However, few if any of the Charles River DBA’s in Omaha would even think about moving to an expensive area like San Diego. Therefore, even though there may be enough (or even unemployed) Charles River DBA’s in Omaha, there is an extreme shortage in San Diego.
So what would be the best way to get the candidates and companies who need them together in a much more productive and efficient manner? The answer is the “Homeland Onshore Model” or Homeshoring.
Simply put, let the DBA in Omaha work remotely into the San Diego office. Because the Omaha DBA is working home, they will probably be happy to work for something less than what they made commuting everyday.
By opening it’s door to remote workers, the San Diego company is greatly expanding it’s recruiting base and taking advantage of a great cost savings, given the cost of living difference between San Diego and Omaha. In addition, the San Diego firm is able to save money on real estate and other overhead costs. The Market comes together, and everybody wins.
Whether we’re talking about IT, Finance, Marketing or other Knowledge based positions, I believe that the Homeland Onshore Model (Homeshoring) may go a long way to help mitigate future unemployment, while allowing U.S. based workers to be competitive with offshore resources.
What do you think?