Sure Things: Death, Taxes and the IT Labor Shortage

July 7, 2006

They say the only sure things in life are death and taxes. In the world of economics, we know that things like inflation rates and interest rates will definitively rise and fall, but we never know with certainty when and by how much. However, the upcoming labor shortage is one of those vary rare economic events that is a clear surety. So with such a certain event unfolding, what are those concerned with IT hiring, staffing and employment industry doing? Robert Morison’s interview of Kathleen Melymuka, author of Workforce Crisis: How to Beat the Coming Shortage of Skills and Talent Harvard Business School Press, 2006, outlines a spot-on perspective and is a must read for those concerned about what’s around the corner for the fate of the IT workforce. The article “Workforce Crisis: Preparing for the Coming IT Crunch,” very neatly lays out the factors that all organizations need to be concerned with, especially those of us in the human capital industry that supply a great deal of the IT talent. The onslaught of the baby boomers is upon us, led by such luminaries as President Bush (about to turn 60) to those trying to defy and delay this reality (i.e. Rolling Stones). Morison’s interview adroitly outlines the shift in supply and demand dynamics and offers some specific suggestions of what the industry can do to address the upcoming friction points. Organizations need to think about this in much the same way as preparing for Y2K. Although the eventualities of both events are similarly predictable, the impacts are not as clearly discernable at this time. Nevertheless, organizations that depend on a healthy IT labor supply, and organizations that supply this much needed talent, need to realize the inevitability and begin to formulate plans and/or alternatives to cope with the pending IT labor shortage.