Employers across the country and across industries continue to find the hiring environment for technical positions to be challenging, and data positions dominate the list of most-wanted new hires.

The low unemployment rate for IT occupations is one factor. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the unemployment rate for computer and mathematical occupations – a reasonable approximation of IT positions – was 2.6 percent in December 2015. That’s far lower than the national employment rate of 5 percent.

Workforce churn is the other factor at play. This includes workers who retire, leave to pursue other employment opportunities, additional education or for family reasons, are fired or laid off.

The total core IT occupation workforce in the U.S. increased by an estimated 151,200 jobs in 2015. And yet, according Burning Glass Technologies Labor Insights, businesses posted job notices for approximately 807,450 core IT positions during Q4 of 2015. That figure is 39 percent higher than the number of IT job postings in Q4 2014.

The past few years have seen robust growth in nearly every category of IT occupation, and the emergence of new positions. Here are just a few examples:

• Chief analytics/data officer

• Data scientist

• Data visualizer

• Social media analyst

• Augmented reality designer

• Content manager/strategist

• Marketing technologist

• Container developer/architect

• Cloud systems engineer

• Internet of Things architect

• Information assurance analyst

• Computer security incident responder

While the IT industry itself remains the largest employer of IT workers, industries across the economy have ramped up their investments in internal software development, IT support, cybersecurity, data, and related skills. Companies continue to work to get the right mix of technology to achieve their business objectives, they will also seek to get the right mix of tech talent.

Last September Fortune 500 retailer Target announced it was reducing its reliance on IT outsourcing – primarily in the area of software development – and bringing 1,000-plus new IT workers on staff. The firm cited the need for greater speed and agility, as well as the advantage that comes with having staff that know the business inside and out.

This one example certainly should not be interpreted as typical. However, it does provide a frame of reference for understanding some of the factors at play.

Another component of this trend as confirmed by CompTIA research is the desire of business executives to shift more IT budget and staff time to innovation, reducing the sometimes-heavy outlay for managing routine IT operations. This may entail working with a managed services provider to help with monitoring IT infrastructure, freeing up the company to develop in-house tech talent through hiring, training, and certifications with an eye towards innovation and business objectives.

Realizing the full benefits of digital transformations requires the coordination of many moving parts. So while third-party experts, such as solution providers and managed services providers, will continue to be part of the mix, many organizations view the further development of tech talent in-house as strategic imperative.

(About the author: Randy Gross is the chief information officer for CompTIA, the IT industry trade association, which includes some 2,000 member companies, 55,000 registered users and 3,000 academic and training partners.)

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