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A Publication of WTVP

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 58 million job openings will be available by 2010. This means there will be jobs for everyone. That’s the good news.

However, the Employment Policy Foundation (EPF) suggests the workforce, particularly in the area of IT, may fall short of the demand. That’s the bad news.

The EPF is a nonprofit, non-partisan educational and research organization, located in Washington, D.C., that monitors a variety of employment trends and analyzes the impact of workplace policies. Upon analyzing the data from the BLS, the EPF predicts the labor force 10 years from now may fall more than 4.8 million workers short of meeting demand.

Technology-related positions, they predict, will be among the fields feeling the most significant shortfall in talent. The demand for IT talent is growing not only in specialized IT firms, but also in other industries. This suggests the pressure to recruit for both direct employees and indirect staffing will continue.

Given current economic conditions, some might find it hard to believe we could be less than a decade away from a drastic IT workplace shortage. Maybe that can be resolved by rectifying a common misperception about today’s economy: we are not in an information technology recession. Despite the layoffs and the dot.com busts we’ve heard about, the total level of IT employment has remained relatively stable. An unemployment rate averaging a mere 1.8 percent at times last year in the heart of the Silicon Valley supports this theory.

Though the growth rate for IT professionals slowed, their unemployment rate is below average. That appears to be great news for IT professionals, whose services will be in higher demand if the EPF’s predictions come true. In other words, get ready for the IT talent pool to set its own rates again.

The news is similarly good for IT staffing professionals, who could be facing a hungry market for their rosters of talent. With an IT talent shortfall that could number in the millions, companies may be turning to staffing firms in unprecedented numbers. It appears the IT staffing industry will continue its long-term growth market.

For businesses, however, this news may not be so good. This news will mean turnover and staffing challenges. Invariably, they will need to prepare themselves anew for this talent demand. It may make sense for businesses to look at their long-term goals today and determine how a possible talent deficiency will affect those goals near 2010. To be better positioned for the shortfall, businesses will have to be ahead of the curve in programs that will help recruit and retain talent. The old mixture of training, a good benefits package, signing bonuses, etc. may not be enough to attract employees next time.

All is not lost, however. Understanding the demand is coming is the first step in doing something about the problem. It is probable that some very good ideas and workable plans will be set in motion before the shortfall is upon us. The good news is we have eight years to work on the problem. IBI