Talent or Education Shortage? Which Is It?

October 8, 2012

Just recently I posted insights gathered from the Harvey Nash CIO Forums in Chicago and New York. In both cities, IT leaders and our CIO panelists had quite a lot to say about the IT talent shortage. Their words were echoed in the Northwest on September 18 when Washington-based IT leaders joined us for an exploration of the 2012 Harvey Nash CIO Survey results.

However, something from that talent discussion in Seattle really grabbed me. Something I didn’t hear in New York or
Chicago. In Seattle, panelists and audience members agreed that there is plenty of enthusiasm for technology careers among new graduates and skilled professionals. Plenty of talented people want to enter the industry. The real problem, they said, was not getting enough people into the field. Educational institutions across the Northwest, they explained, do not have enough seats, funding and programs to educate and produce a world-leading IT workforce.
Seattle-based Harvey Nash recruiters confirm that they come across many gifted and intelligent graduates and professionals who want to get into the industry but are not able to get the education they need to achieve it. I know a lot of us tend to think that today’s students simply aren’t interested in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) areas of study but on the ground, the story is much more complex.
As reported oneSchoolNews.com, the 2012 National Study for STEM Education revealed a lack of educational funding to be one of the major reasons the U.S. is not producing enough STEM professionals. As the talent demand grows, educational opportunities must also expand and keep pace with an economy that is increasingly more technology dependent. Is the solution more public-private partnerships and funding? Take for example Microsoft’s Technology Education and Literacy in Schools program and Google’s computer science skills enhancement program for teachers, CS4HS, which were both recently detailed in this New York Times article.
Should the government play a bigger role in increasing STEM education opportunities? Can we continue to be global innovators when the U.S. is 27th in producing top math and science engineers as John Calabrese, General Motors vice president of global engineering, explains in this Detroit Free Press article?
Believe me, this is a topic Harvey Nash is diving into full force in our CIO Forums and surveys and we will be sharing those insights in the months ahead. Does your business see a shortage of STEM educational opportunities in the local market? Have you seen opportunities for public-private partnerships to support STEM skill development among young learners and college students? Should government play a larger role in expanding STEM education? Feel free to share questions or insights that Harvey Nash can include in upcoming CIO Forum/Survey events.