IT Workforce Crisis

“Like global warming, the reality of the looming talent shortage is pretty well established, but that hasn’t induced many IT managers to prepare for it. Now there are no more excuses. Workforce Crisis: How to Beat the Coming Shortage of Skills and Talent (Harvard Business School Press, 2006) lays out a comprehensive plan to ensure that your IT organization — or any organization — continues to recruit and retain workers with the skills and commitment to move forward. Robert Morison, who wrote the book with Ken Dychtwald and Tamara J. Erickson, spoke with Kathleen Melymuka about the challenges for the coming decade.

“The talent shortage is hard to get too worried about when you’re not feeling the pain. When will this problem really become apparent? Any business that is already in an industry that relies on occupations in short supply knows about this. That’s not computer science yet, but engineering disciplines, oil and gas, health care — especially nursing — public utilities, and government — especially the federal government. I bet their IT workforce has an old profile. And to any organization that dares to take a close look at its workforce demographics and plan ahead, this will resonate.

“When will it start to hit? The oldest boomers are 60, and the average retirement age is 63, so I’d say you’ll be feeling pressure by 2010 and very much pressure by 2015. We may be a couple million workers shy in 2010 and 10 million shy around 2015. But you’re right: In most organizations, this is still seen as an indefinitely postponable issue.”

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