Challenges in the Tech Industry

Both major employment search engines – Indeed and Glassdoor  – list technology jobs among the most lucrative jobs. In 2017, 7 out of the top 10 best jobs were from the tech industry, software engineering and development in particular. This is based on salary comparisons, growth prospects from 2013 to 2016, and job postings. Additionally, computer and IT jobs are expected to grow 12 % from 2014 – 2024 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And by 2020 there are predicted to be 1.4 million new unfilled software development positions. However, there might not be enough experts to fill these positions. Why is this so? What other problems is the tech industry facing?

Schools and Apprenticeships

Because most IT jobs require at least Bachelor’s degree, studying pays off.  IT experts earn almost $45,000 more annually than the national average. However, schools do not produce enough qualified applicants to fill all the positions. To offset this gap, US President Donald Trump spoke at Waukesha County Technical College in Wisconsin earlier this week and proposed an apprenticeship program for high schools in America. These vocational education programs and apprenticeships could provide workers with tech skills for the market and fill open jobs. It would also target other sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing, IT and health care.

But rather than increasing the $90 million federal budget for this program, the White House will support partnerships between private companies and schools instead. This arrangement would pay for the programs. Nevertheless, apprenticeships will have their own challenges. Their drop-out rate is about 50 % and currently only about 3.5 % of jobs were filled by apprentices in 2016.

Gender Inequality and Culture

Additional problems faced by the technology industry are gender inequality and minority participation.  Women are underrepresented in the tech industry in general. According to the 2016 CompTIA research report, US tech sectors are dominated by men. In most of the research jobs – technology manufacturing, telecommunications and internet services, software, IT services – only approximately 1/3 of employees are women.

The quit rate for women in technology is twice as high than it is for men. Workplace experience and culture contribute to the decision whether to stay or leave a specific tech company. Nearly half of the women who leave STEM jobs careers will use their skills in other non-STEM professions. For example, Uber’s culture problems and sexual harassment incidents could have potential impact on their business, so changing their internal culture and public image has become their top priority.

In order to attract more applicants (from all genders), it also doesn’t help the industry that more than 1/3 of tech workers are underpaid relative to the market, according to a study by Paysa. After comparing 5 million resumes, salaries and benefits from technology professionals, employees might be inclined to move to a new job or company.

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