It would be a simple matter, it would seem, to hire a senior developer with Microsoft Dynamics skills. Yet, Kelly Bedrich, the director of IT for the non-profit firm APQC (the American Productivity and Quality Center), has been having difficulties filing the position.
He has his theories.
One is simply that local talent who can perform development, training and tier 2 support is scarce, he tells CMSWire.com. Another: organizations are starting to realize how critical the customer relationship management (CRM) function is to effective sales and marketing "so they are protecting their resources," he said.
It's not as though the non-profit was trying to hire one or more data scientists, a highly-sought skill. But then again, it might as well be. In general, the demand for IT talent has typically outstripped the supply and as the economy continues to recover that is hardly changing.
Professional business services was one of the strongest job-growth categories in December, according to the most recent Labor Department statistics, with IT jobs making up a strong component. Employment in professional and business services – a category that ranges from administrative to waste management to architectural and engineering -- rose by 52,000 in December. Of that amount, 9,000 or so positions were in computer systems design and related services.
As the economy continues to strengthen and hiring increases, it would behoove companies to get a sense of where the IT talent scarcity will lie. Sure you can ask a head hunter and he or she will rattle off the top five or ten positions in demand right now. But as Bedrich's experience shows, some seemingly average-type skill sets can be surprisingly hard to fill as well.
Not that the recruiters are to be dismissed. On the contrary, they too are in the front lines of the IT talent wars. With both points in mind, we covered all our bases, speaking with recruiters and companies looking to make direct hires to get a sense of which jobs will be the hardest to fill in the coming year.
The Bread and Butter
One dominant theme is that there is a perennial shortage of developer and programming skills. Specifically, software engineers, architects, project managers and security talent can be difficult to find, according to a survey by TEKsystems.
"The IT hiring market is as competitive as it ever has been, and the highest demand for talent is in development, whether it’s for websites or mobile platforms," John King, an IT branch manager at Addison Group, told CMSWire.
"Companies don’t have time to train individuals on complicated coding languages, so they need talent that can hit the ground running coding .NET, Java or SQL immediately. Professionals with expertise in frameworks like AngularJS are particularly in high demand."
By contrast, according to TEKsystems' survey, business intelligence and big data, cloud and mobile roles are somewhat easier to fill. Still, the company calls these positions "high impact roles" and IT leaders can expect to increase spending on each in 2015.
The Data Scientist Cometh
In some quarters, the opinion about big data talent is different. Data scientists are a very hot commodity now, said Jake Gasaway, founder of Stitch Labs.
"This term didn’t exist five years ago and now people are looking for these unicorns with large math backgrounds who enjoy data analysis," he told CMSWire. "If you don’t have someone on your staff analyzing your sales and business analytics, you'll soon be drowning. But if you’re a growing small business, this may be something looped into existing roles and technology."
Tech Plus ….
Tech skills that are married to business acumen are also valued in the workforce, according to James Wright, a partner with Bridge Technical Talent.
"The names of the skills change -- .NET has fallen back while Ruby, Python & Java have taken off again, for example -- but more importantly is the shift towards other skills sets beyond technology," he said. "Clients, particularly in highly regulated environments, want the tech skills but they also want someone with experience with the American Care Act or Sarbanes Oxley/credit card/online payments, or with particular experience within the Utilities industry for example."
Hot tech skills include mobile development, but also Epic, which is highly coveted right now, according to Wright, and high-level infrastructure experience, particularly with cloud based architecture.
Anything having to do with the hybrid cloud, is hot right now, said Timothy Abbott, chief of staff of Trace3.
"Hybrid cloud solution architects, developers, engineers, or system Administrators," he told CMSWire. "With the rapid pass of innovation in the IT industry using hybrid cloud solutions is mandatory to stay current. Also with companies like AWS, which developed more 454 new services in 2014, hybrid cloud is becoming the fastest growing segment in IT.”
The User Experience
APQC's difficulties wouldn’t come as a surprise to Ed Nathanson, talent advisor at CloudLock, who said companies are putting a huge emphasis on user experience, "as the Apples of the world have shown how impactful a great user interface can be for the bottom line. As it is still a relatively newer field in the world of technology, there simply aren't enough people on the market with the experience levels needed."
Amazon Web Services are in huge demand globally because Amazon is one of the biggest companies in the world, he also said. "Big data skills are also newer to the skills market over the last six plus years and are in huge demand as companies look to maximize on their own data as well as look for ways to productize big data in new offerings."
A Passion for Security
Given the nonstop proliferation of cyber security incidents, IT workers with this skill set are in high demand as well. But then, as the stakes ratchet higher and higher in this space, companies are not just looking for run-of-the-mill talent.
"We are interested in finding people with a passion for figuring out how to make the Internet a safer place for all of us," Matt Johansen, senior manager of WhiteHat Security's Threat Research Center, said. "The key here is passion. I'd hire somebody with a passion for Internet security and an aptitude to learn quickly over somebody with years of experience any day."
That said, Information Security in general has a near zero unemployment rate as there is a huge need for skilled individuals and a lack of talent, he adds. "Security is almost guaranteed to not be outsourced for trust reasons."