A self-described contrarian, Foote said tech employers are passing off blame for the perceived skill shortage to the education sector when employers are the ones who are best-equipped to address the problem. For example, cybersecurity skills are “learned on the job, not in academia,” he said. “Employers have to train to fill those gaps.” By some estimates, the U.S. could face a shortage of more than 1 million cybersecurity professionals by 2020.
Foote said the popular perception that H-1B visa holders from overseas are filling jobs that employers can’t fill domestically is misguided. “There is no shortage of STEM workers coming out of U.S. universities,” he said. “There is a shortage of multidimensional tech-related workers with the unusual combination of hard and soft skills, but that shortage is not being filled by H-1Bs.”
Organizations need to start by thinking about skills definition as an architectural exercise rather than a set of discrete competencies, Foote said. Future IT projects will integrate multiple technologies, such as blockchain, IoT and analytics.
That will demand a new approach to hiring that considers such factors as job design, skills integration, incentives, on-the-job training and work/life balance. Only by getting rid of standardized job titles and focusing on ways to optimize the abilities of individual employees can organizations reduce turnover and meet the demands of rapidly changing technology, he said.