Bullen co-authors SIM report on IT workforce trends

Changing demographics in US & EU play role in sourcing strategy

HOBOKEN, N.J. -- Professor Christine Bullen of Stevens Institute of Technology's Howe School of Technology Management participated with an international team of researchers to produce an important white paper on the role of sourcing in the American and European high-tech sectors, "The Information Technology Workforce: Trends and Implications 2005-2008." The report was released this week on the website of the sponsoring organization, the Society for Information Management (SIM).

Bullen and a team of more than 20 US and European investigators conducted the research via structured interviews of senior IT managers held from May to October 2005. The respondents were primarily senior IT management from a variety of industries who voiced serious concerns over a number of workforce issues.

"Paradigm shifts from rapidly changing technological and business environments dictate that IT professionals adjust their skills and capabilities to support effectively their organizations' missions," said Bullen. "Global IT sourcing, the shift from IT services to business process services, pending baby-boomer retirements, and declining IT enrollments in US and European universities are prompting fundamental changes in the nature of IT skills and capabilities available to and desired by both vendor and client organizations.

"The resulting potential for a mismatch of supply and demand is a source of concern for business executives and academics alike," she concluded.

To address these concerns, the SIM sponsored research to:

  • Understand the current and future needs for IT skills and capabilities in both internal IT departments and IT service providers;
  • Determine how organizations are recruiting and developing in-house IT skills and capabilities in 2005;
  • Determine the extent to which organizations access IT skills and capabilities through global sourcing in 2005 and 2008; and
  • Describe what skills universities should be providing their graduates.

The SIM-sponsored study provides insight into current trends surrounding IT workforce staffing and skills, and their implications. The data was collected from knowledgeable and experienced managers in a wide range of industries. The study looked at the mix of sourcing options organizations use, such as in-house staff, independent contractors and third-party providers.

The study also inquired as to what IT skills and capabilities are critical for 2005 and 2008, how skills are acquired by organizations and what they look for in hiring new and experienced employees.

"The results of this in-depth research have implications for the role that various sourcing strategies play in providing organizations access to skills; how organizations recruit for and develop skills; and consideration of what skills universities should be instilling in their graduates," said Bullen.

According to the report, the skills and capabilities identified as critical to keep in-house in 2008 resemble those critical to keep in-house today, highlighting the continuing importance of business domain knowledge and project-management skills. Skills identified as growing in importance in the future also include skills associated with managing third-party service providers.

Taken as a whole, said Bullen, these results signify a shift in the mission of the Information System function from delivering technology-based solutions to managing the process of delivering them, a subtle but telling distinction. As part of that process, results indicate that organizations are increasingly looking to third-party providers and independent contractors for technical skills, to take advantage of the maturation of the market for IT services and to support flexible staffing schemes.

"Obviously, many questions remain on the national, political, and economic implications of the structural change in the IT workforce that warrant greater investigation," said Bullen. "However, the data points to growth in offshore sourcing with far-reaching implications on many levels, affecting non-IT organizations, service providers, individual workers, and academics. "Based on the results of this research, it is clear that declining numbers of graduates that have acquired both technical and business competencies is harmful to industry, this nation's economy and our future competitiveness," she continued. "Therefore, more must be done to counter this trend and increase awareness and understanding among current and future IT professionals of the opportunities and changing nature of skill demands."

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An executive summary of the SIM-sponsored white paper, "The Information Technology Workforce: Trends and Implications," can viewed on the SIM website at www.simnet.org

About SIM
Since 1968, the Society for Information Management has inspired the minds of the most prestigious IT leaders in the industry. Highly regarded as the premier network for IT leadership, SIM is a community of thought leaders who share experiences and rich intellectual capital, and who explore future IT direction.

About Stevens Institute of Technology
Established in 1870, Stevens offers baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degrees in engineering, science, computer science, management and technology management, as well as a baccalaureate in the humanities and liberal arts, and in business and technology. The university has enrollments of approximately 1,780 undergraduates and 2,700 graduate students, and a current enrollment of 2,250 online-learning students worldwide. Additional information may be obtained from its web page at www.Stevens.edu.
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