As readers of this blog are well aware, the IT skills gap has garnered several headlines over the last few years. With technology evolving at a lightning fast speed and colleges turning out fewer students with degrees in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, the demand for highly qualified talent is far outpacing the supply.
Many members of the technology field have chimed in about the issue. Aside from domestic problems, many, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google executive Laszlo Bock, have pointed toward immigration challenges that have compounded the problem.
"[A]t a time when the U.S. economy needs it most, our immigration policies are stifling innovation," Bock said in a statement earlier this year. "The 2013 cap for the H-1B visas that allow foreign high skilled talent to work temporarily in the U.S. was exhausted by June 2012, preventing tech companies from recruiting some of the world's brightest minds."
However, not everyone believes that there is a shortage. In a recent InformationWeek article, editor Thomas Claburn argues that there may be other factors that are helping to embellish the "shortage." There are two things in play here: employers want to save money and foreign employees have fewer options.
From a company standpoint, each organization wants to save money in a tough economy. This has led to lower offers that domestic talent is turning down, which, as Claburn notes, is an affordability problem not a skills shortage.
For foreign workers, regardless of skill level, if they are working for a green card, they basically have no choice but to stay in their current position. If they were to change companies, it would reset the green card process. This puts businesses in a place of power where they do not need to look for domestic talent.
While it is a growing concern, the skills gap is more complicated than previously thought. To help avoid this, some companies have been turning toward VARs and MSPs as a valuable resource for handling IT challenges.