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IT Workers Will Be Hard to Find and Keep in 2022

​Three recently published reports suggest that while the demand for technology will remain high in 2022, skilled IT workers will be hard to find and difficult to keep.

These trends will disrupt technology projects but will also close the gap between technology and HR leaders, according to a survey report titled The Impact of Technology in 2022 and Beyond: an IEEE Global Study.

The report reveals that 97 percent of IT leaders agree that their team is working more closely than ever with human resource leaders to implement workplace technologies—though it may take longer than usual due to the staffing shortages.

The report, which was published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in November, relied on responses from 350 chief information officers, chief technology officers, IT directors and other technology leaders in the U.S., China, the U.K., India and Brazil who work at organizations with more than 1,000 employees across multiple sectors.

The IT leaders shared their views on the state of HR technology as the impact of COVID-19 continues to change the workplace.

Respondents predict that in 2022 they'll have a plethora of difficult IT problems to solve, including:

  • Maintaining strong cybersecurity for a hybrid workforce of remote and in-office workers (83 percent).
  • Managing return-to-office health and safety protocols, software, apps, and data (73 percent).
  • Deciding what technologies are necessary for their company in the post-pandemic future (68 percent).
  • Recruiting technologists and filling open tech positions (73 percent).

A survey published in October by TalentLMS, part of the Epignosis Group of Companies, and recruiting software company Workable suggests there's more trouble ahead. The companies polled 1,200 IT workers for its report and found 72 percent of respondents in the U.S. said they are thinking of quitting their jobs in the next 12 months.

Respondents cited several reasons for wanting to quit, with 41 percent saying their jobs had limited career progression, 40 percent noting a lack of flexibility in working hours and 39 percent citing a toxic work environment.

"The percentage of IT workers [who] are thinking about quitting their jobs is higher than I would imagine," said Periklis Venakis, chief technology officer at Epignosis.

Venakis said employers will have to adapt to remote work, which will continue after the pandemic ends. He added that HR should see this as an opportunity because companies can find employees in markets that were closed to them prior to the pandemic.

"Not only is the competition stronger, but [also] the pool of candidates is larger," he said. "HR executives should focus on reaching out to people working in geographically dispersed areas that were unreachable up until recently. By providing flexible working conditions, they can more easily hire and keep new IT staff."

One company that is watching its IT staff turnover rates is Cloudflare Inc., an infrastructure and website security company based in San Francisco.

According to Janet Van Huysse, Cloudflare's senior vice president and chief people officer, the company's employee turnover rate during the pandemic peaked in May 2021. Cloudflare has more than 2,200 employees and an IT organization of 964 workers globally.

"Since March 2020, the IT organization accounted for approximately 30 percent of all our terminations, most of which were voluntary," she said. "Primarily, these were due to either career progression, opportunities elsewhere, or because of performance or capabilities fit," Van Huysse said.

She agreed with the 2021-2023 Emerging Technology Roadmap for Large Enterprises report from Gartner Inc., published in September, in which 64 percent of IT executives cite talent shortages as the most significant barrier to the adoption of emerging technology, compared with only 4 percent in 2020.

"The talent shortage as the primary adoption barrier to emerging tech is concerning, because it demonstrates the critical skills gap that exists in most industries today. Not enough people within an organization have the skills that are necessary for business growth in the modern age," Van Huysse said.

Gartner's survey also showed that among the technology areas affected by IT talent shortages are computer infrastructure and platform services, network, security, digital workplace, IT automation, storage and database systems. IT executives cited talent availability as the main adoption risk factor for the majority of IT automation technologies (75 percent) and nearly half of digital workplace technologies (41 percent).

Yet across all technology domains, 58 percent of respondents reported either an increase or a plan to increase emerging technology investment in 2021, compared with 29 percent in 2020.

As companies seek IT skills, Van Huysse said HR leaders need to be open-minded about where talent comes from and embrace unconventional paths to tech by using more inclusive hiring strategies.

She added that looking in unconventional areas for talent also means seeking applicants from more geographies. While a larger talent pool diversifies the candidate pipeline, it also creates more complexities for organizations. HR leaders must be flexible in their approach and be ready to support teams and leaders as they make this transition.

"In addition to adjusting their recruiting goals and plans, HR leaders now understand that technical skills are a business imperative that require companies to double down on training and upskilling programs across the entire organization. This also supports recruiting efforts, as internal mobility makes HR managers less dependent on outside hiring to fill open roles," Van Huysse said.

Nicole Lewis is a freelance journalist based in Miami.


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