SI Review: January/February 2014

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View From the Boardroom: Today’s Persona

What this decade’s job seeker looks like

By Kevin Horner

2014 may shape up to be the prognosticated Year of the Employee, but it really depends on how you define “employee.” To us, it is what we have dubbed the “Tens Employee”: a professional job seeker of the 2010s — new or experienced — who will be differentiated from his/her predecessors by four key traits.

1. Professional. One in four new jobs created over the next 12 months will be in STEM occupations. While 23 percent of students choose STEM majors, just 9 percent complete the degree. Why should we mind the gap? In economic terms, the improvements and innovations that these occupations produce help fuel our economic recovery. When the work doesn’t get done, it creates drag on the businesses as well as the economy as a whole.

2. Non-traditional. Even as demand for IT talent outpaces supply, employers remain skittish about such macroeconomic factors as the debt ceiling and the Affordable Care Act. As a result, the Tens Employee is more likely than his/her predecessors to be part-time. In fact, 42 percent of employers plan to hire temporary or contract workers this year, up two points over last year. And longer-term, part-timers are expected to burgeon from 30 percent now to 40 percent of the total workforce by 2024.

As competition for a limited talent pool intensifies, the Tens Employee is more likely to work from home, wherever home may be, with employers looking internationally and embracing flexibility to land the right talent. There is no way to close the IT talent gap without challenging traditional paradigms of labor supply and demand. Immigration reform that gives U.S. businesses access to the best and brightest from an international pool of talent is essential with demand that exceeds domestic supply. Contrary to traditional notions that filling these jobs internationally costs Americans’ jobs, what we’re seeing is that filling these jobs accelerates business growth and stimulates job opportunity.

3. Capable and trainable. Jacks-of-all-trades surely don’t work in IT, an industry that has rapidly evolved in diversity and complexity over the last decade. Where businesses once jammed a college full of majors into a single job description, they now are being forced to rethink scope based on what is available and affordable on the open market. An important part of our company’s work involves providing hiring managers with insight into current market dynamics, and helping them identify the most important skill base in order to source and deliver the right talent on budget.

The corollary to this trend is that companies are dedicating more resources to training and development. CareerBuilder recently reported that 26 percent of employers are sending employees for advanced degrees, and covering all or some of the expense.

4. Agile. “Should I stay or should I go?” That is the question on the minds of the Tens Employee (even if he/she is too young to remember the Clash classic). Hiring managers and recruiters are facing increases in voluntary turnover and candidates turning down job offers. Employers are working harder than ever to retain existing tech staffers and attract new employees. As a result, the biggest increases in starting salaries and wages this year will happen in IT.

For those of us whose business is to curate this new Tens Employee, the emerging environment presents both challenge and reward. As IT talent partners, our services become increasingly vital to enabling businesses to keep pace with the volume and complexity of IT recruitment. But it’s also imperative that we not allow the sheer volume to dull our senses, and remain ever mindful that a person is at the center of each and every transaction.

Kevin Horner is CEO of Mastech Inc. He can be reached at kevin.horner@mastech.com

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