Can Industry Learn to Love a Skills Shortage?
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According to columnist Gary Beach, “An analysis by CompTIA, a tech trade association, reports 553,000 tech jobs are currently ‘open’ in America. The group also claims industry growth, and workforce retirement adjustments, will create 140,000 new tech jobs every year from 2017 – 2024.”
That’s a lot of tech jobs going begging. But does that necessarily translate to a dire skills shortage that dooms the republic and all we hold dear?
Yes, we have a tech skills shortage, but when didn’t we? Countries without skills shortages are countries that aren’t going anywhere. Same with companies. Fast-growing, successfully companies will always battle to fill their ranks with the best.
Skills shortages are the natural (and ultimately healthy) result of advances. You might say they are a feature, not a bug, of innovation. They don’t doom success – they are harbingers of it. The perfection of the compass led to a shortage of experienced sailors, but we still had the Age of Discovery. Auto mechanics in short supply when Henry Ford was rolling out cars on his assembly line, but we’ve been in the age of the automobile ever since.
Resourceful societies have always found a way to fill their need for talent. Today we are fortunate to have more strategies than ever to do so. Certainly, it would be a great thing for the U.S. if we had, all along, been graduating vast numbers of STEM majors, but since we have not, U.S. companies can still take advantage of the fact that several Asian countries have been producing way more than they can employ – and not just through visas but through a variety of sourcing options. There’s conventional offshoring, of course, and captive offshoring. But increasingly, there’s hybrid captive offshoring which lets companies of all sizes keep control of processes while they reap the rewards of sourcing.
There’s reshoring which speaks to the growing flexibility of sourcing options. Internet-based delivery makes it easier for companies to alter their strategies quickly when circumstances change. There’s domestic rural sourcing that is gaining momentum as U.S. companies discover the social value of investing in local resources.
We see more companies making use of all or many of these strategies, depending on their needs. Their flexibility keeps them from being constrained by skills shortages and ensures that they can seize competitive advantage.
This post was written by Bob Olson