The State of the IT Job Market – An interview with Michel Cournoyer, the editor

As we end 2016, if you had to give a ‘State of the Global IT Market’ address, what points would you touch oncapture-decran-2016-12-03-a-18-17-38

  • ICT, and especially IT skills, are a key growth factor in today’s globalized digital economy. Innovations like the internet of things (IOT) and Social, Mobile, Analytics, Apps, and Cloud (SMAAC) could significantly heighten business competitive advantage. And this will continue over the next few years in a large variety of sectors: manufacturing, natural resources, financial services, health, transportation, and more provided that we do not reach a wall: the Skills Gap.
  • According to a recent survey by TEKsystems, 80% of IT leaders and IT professionals believe the IT skills gap is real. Additionally, 60 percent of IT leaders say the IT skills gap moderately to severely impacts their organization, compared to 45 percent of IT professionals and Nearly 7 out of 10 do not believe they currently have the skills in-house to address their needs.[1]
  • In 2016, the IT job market will still be dominated by its long-term trends as we expect further economic growth over the next couple of quarters, especially in the US, but more less in Canada and Europe. In other words, there is little to bring the IT job market down.
  • The demand for talent is so strong that the IT labour market has been able to absorb almost all of the available supply of talent. This trend is there to stay. Generally speaking, on the long-term trends, the occupational outlook are more than bright according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

“Employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. These occupations are expected to add about 488,500 new jobs, from about 3.9 million jobs to about 4.4 million jobs from 2014 to 2024, in part due to a greater emphasis on cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, more everyday items becoming connected to the Internet in what is commonly referred to as the “Internet of things,” and the continued demand for mobile computing.

“The median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $79,390 in May 2014, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $35,540.”

Source: Computer and Information Technology Occupations : Occupational Outlook Handbook : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Occupation                                                                                   Job Growth, 2014-24     


Computer and Information Research Scientists                         11%

Computer Network Architects                                                         9%

Computer Programmers*                                                                 -8%

Computer Support Specialists                                                         12%

Database Administrators                                                                  11%

Information Security Analysts                                                       18%

Network and Computer Systems Administrators                       8%

Software Developers                                                                          17%

Web Developers                                                                                  27%

Source: ibid


* This is based on the fact that “computer programming can be done from anywhere in the world, so companies sometimes hire programmers in countries where wages are lower.”

  • To these IT occupations, we should add Big Data Analysts as an occupation in itself. Most businesses are now applying big data analytics to improve customer retention, help with product development and gain a competitive advantage.
  • Moreover, the cybersecurity market which is expected to grow from $75 billion in 2015 to $170 billion by 2020 and more than 209,000 cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. are unfilled, and postings are up 74% over the past five years [2].


The top 3

Information Security Analysts

Big Data Analysts

Software Developers

  • On the other side of the labor market, let us say that supply doesn’t keep up with the growing demand. The unemployment rate for those occupations are around half of what we observe at the national level, in almost all OECD countries. For instance, in December 2015, it was 2.6% for Computer and mathematical occupations in the U.S. as a whole compare with an overall rate of 4.8%.[3] In short, this is a full employment sector and new source of skills must be found to sustain its growth.

Bridging the IT Skills Gap: Why is it so Hard to ? 

  • All around the globe, too much students avoid taking STEM (Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Information Technology) courses at secondary education level, which is drastically limiting their career choices later. It is not enough to be good at video games to go on an IT career! This is especially true in less affluent communities where occupational choices seem to be biased against STEM.[4]
  • These occupations are still as male-dominated and more efforts should be made to attract a diversified workforce.
  • For instance, 74 percent of those who have a bachelor’s degree in in STEM are not employed in STEM occupations according to the U.S. Census Bureau.[5] Those are often underemployed grads could be an important potential source of talents for the IT sector, provided they are offered the training to fill the skills gaps,.
  • High salaries, the ongoing need for training and lack of skill portability are among the main problems for businesses or those already on the job market.

[1] Source: Skills_Gaps_Exec_Report_FINAL.pdf

[2] Source: One Million Cybersecurity Job Openings In 2016 – Forbes

[3] Source: A-30. Unemployed persons by occupation and sex

[4] See this study on the UK case Poorest children miss out on chance to study triple science GCSEs | newschoolsnetwork.org

[5] Source : Census Bureau Reports Majority of STEM College Graduates Do Not Work in STEM Occupations – Employment & Occupations – Newsroom – U.S. Census Bureau.


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