What can we do about the widening technology skills gap?

https://goo.gl/8lFidrA 2013 study funded by Microsoft found that each year, 230,000 new tech jobs are created. The report also showed that each year, only 49,000 students graduate with a computer science-focused degree. That leaves more than 70,000 jobs available – so why are eight million people in the U.S. unemployed, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics?

It’s called a skills gap, and the U.S. job market as a whole is experiencing it. There are Millennials straight out of college applying for jobs that they are under-qualified for – not because they lack field experience, but because they didn’t receive the college education needed to complete the tasks at hand.

Though the entire job market is being affected by the skills gap, the technology market is taking one of the hardest hits. In a recent article about the tech skills gap, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that software development, data science, and systems engineering are among those STEM fields suffering the most from the talent gap.

Another skills gap study, conducted by Microsoft and Washington State, finds that one out of two jobs requires tech skills. Within the next ten years this number is predicted to increase to three out of four jobs. With Millennials unable to land these jobs, and employers unable to hire candidates, the market is not progressing.

This all sounds pretty negative . . . but it’s actually the perfect opportunity for people interested in pursuing a career in technology. Here’s why. By 2020, IT salaries alone are predicted to rise by 5.1% per year. The fewer qualified candidates there are for the technology field, the more invaluable tech gurus will become.

One way the tech industry is tackling the problem head on is through education. Companies are offering mentorships, industry experts are sharing their knowledge for free through blogs and online coding tutorials, and companies are even providing free training. For example, the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy teaches technology courses to active-duty military service members, in an effort to prepare them for the workforce upon completion of their military duties.

As for those who want a great career in technology – the key is to get the education needed to be successful – the education that, for some reason, others are not receiving. Research programs and education tracks before attending any program or school. Ask about success rates and investigate what the tech community has to say about those programs. The opinion of the tech community will tell you a lot about whether or not an education program will lead to a successful career.

Have you already received a great education? Are you ready to dive in to the technology field? Check out the Top Five Stem Cities for Employment on the TRC Professional Solutions blog to find the perfect city for your career.

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