Behind The IT Labor “Shortage” Hype

Solving the wrong problem

In this time-compressed, hyper-competitive economy, based increasingly on knowledge, today’s IT workforce represents the future. As competitive work environments based on IT knowledge and skills grow at unprecedented speed, human effort typified by the IT workforce is the new order. Top IT professionals are creating intellectual capital, not mere “labor.” Because they understand that they have become the means of production, large numbers of IT workers have become independent and part of the growing flexible workforce. These professionals want new contractual relationships with enterprises – they want rewards and incentives to match their contributions. The emerging knowledge economy is both a high-skill and high-wage marketplace.

What are the real agenda: cost controls, workforce retention and knowledge development.

Cost Controls

While it is true that in specific sectors there are severe shortfalls, much of the touted “labor shortage” is a cost-control and workforce retention challenge. IT professional are in high demand as enterprises rely increasingly on knowledge-based IT systems for their strategic initiatives and ultimately their long-term survival. But these professionals are in limited supply. This reality has enabled the higher-skilled segments of the IT workforce to move to a higher wage structure, whether working full-time or as members of the rapidly growing independent IT workforce. This trend has concerned corporate, technical and human resource management to the point where they balk at enterprise-wide modernization programs, and defer many projects until the need is proven.

As Robert Rivers, American Engineering Associating (Orange, Mass.) Manpower Committee chairman says: “If you can find a ( worker ) supply at any price, there is no shortage.

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