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Emerging technologies (Et) are moving faster than we can keep up with.  There are deep concerns about the future of how we define work. Whose jobs might be eliminated? What kind of digital age workforce we will need to harness and drive the advancements of Et?

The fields of emerging technologies have endless applications.  While the list of emerging technologies is endless, we are using these disciplines as a basis for the digital age workforce categorization:  encryption technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, big data, the Internet of Nanothings and 5G (and beyond) communication capabilities.

Encryption Technologies like Blockchain

Developing and sustaining a new digital-age workforce is a high priority across all platforms of education, private enterprise and governments.  This digital age workforce must be work ready and just in time to meet the demands of the ever-evolving Et platforms.

The truth is, we don’t know the exact path of the Et platforms.   As we move beyond the limitations of Moore’s law, our best strategy is to build frameworks and resiliency into our digital age workforce transformation.

Artificial Intelligence

Future Et resiliency must be built from the ground up.    We can neither wait for a digital age workforce candidate to complete a 4-6-year degree, nor conclude that this same college degree is the sole criteria needed to fulfill the needs of the digital age workforce position.  As fast as technology is evolving, by the time a college graduate enters the digital age workforce, their skills will already be obsolete!

A new path to career development is needed to meet the future demand of the Et digital age workforce.  This path should build skills that are designed and adapted to a life-long digital learner. These life-long digital learners will build resilient pathways to address both acute job market skill-set needs and create elasticity across the employment chain.  This elastic pathway will also support the proliferation of the gig economy and build mentors for the subsequent cadre of digital age workers.

This paper is both an opinion on the current state of the Information Technology workforce, and an exploration of the many paths we can take to merge information and emerging technology disciplines into a new digital age.

What is the Current State of the Information Technology workforce?

The consistent message in Information Technology is that there is a lack of skilled workers to meet the current demand of open job positions. 

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta – Some industries encounter worker shortages

Consumer Goods – Report from AI now: The Deskilled Future Workforce

Financial Review – Microsoft education chief says technology jobs gap is becoming acute

HR dive – Facebook aims to train 1M US workers and small business owners by 2020

Indeed – Beyond the talent shortage How tech candidates search for jobs

 SCC research proposes a more thought-provoking conclusion.

Our research shows that the following factors are more significant to the state of the IT workforce today –

  • outdated hiring practices
  • extreme disparities in job descriptions
  • corporate policies based on outsourcing
  • under and un-credentialed senior executives
  • ill-defined frameworks

Factor 1 Real world job posts neglect Department of Labor (DOL) Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code job descriptions and salary ranges.

  • Computer User Support Specialist SOC Code 15-1151: (help desk technician)
    • DOL SOC code salary range per hour across the United States $14.69-$35.65

This analysis shows two job listings, both from major job search engines, where two jobs with the same title have wildly disparate salaries and skill requirements.  Click here to view these descriptions.

Factor 1 Solution

  • Job listings should comply with DOL SOC code job descriptions and salaries to establish uniformity industry wide
  • Salary ranges should include variables for local, state and federal minimum wage standards and reasonable levels of experience, but NOT be expanded to add duties and responsibilities outside the scope of the applicable SOC code
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Factor 2 IT Management and C-suite level positions are routinely filled with people whose skill set is not representative of the progressive foundation of practical knowledge and experience, education and certification.  Adherence to these defined skill-sets and frameworks is critical to the implementation of responsible and effective IT policies.

  • Job Titles of senior IT executives including Director of IT Cybersecurity, Vice President, et al
    • skill sets for senior IT executives are often lacking in both progressive history of IT/Et job responsibilities and in established framework certifications and education
  • Trends in Advanced cybersecurity position hiring
    • The “new” trend is to fill IT positions with C.P.A.’s due to their specific audit capabilities. While C.P.A certifications certainly contain an audit component, an accounting background and a C.P.A. certification are NOT representative of the qualifications needed to audit IT Systems and Processes
  • Chasing IT Certifications across multiple platforms is not representative of proficiency
    • CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker), CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), PMP (Project Management Professional, CGEIT (Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT) …I could go on forever. These certifications have value, but there are also conflicts in strategies, policies and implementations between them.  Use caution when you see a long list of certifications and an employment and education background that doesn’t match

These factors all combine to create scenarios where the employer is looking for the wrong person for the wrong position.   This confusion perpetuates the lack of skilled workers myth.  Advanced IT Management and C-suite level positions require knowledge, education and experience in specifically defined disciplines.  In short, these are not “on the job training” positions.

Industry must understand that the failure to acknowledge existing IT skill set frameworks, certifications and education is one of the critical causes of the continued reporting of lack of skilled workers an delays the creation of a digital age workforce.

Factor 2 Solution

  • All new hires and promotions should be validated against SOC job descriptions, education and certification and salary frameworks
  • All existing hires should be validated against SOC job description, education and certification frameworks. Pathways should be offered to existing personnel to comply with the defined frameworks
  • Build a pathway for existing and new IT/Et positions that clearly matches pathways to advancement, a practice already in place in every other profession.

Factor 3 Re-evaluate offshore and importing avenues for IT/Et hiring practices.  Information and Emerging technology job positions should be considered not solely by cost but by current and future value.

  • There continues to be much discussion recently the hiring of H1B workers, especially in tech positions.
  • It’s an easy search to find out this information.

Factor 3 Solution

  • Implementing the framework solutions in Factors 1 & 2 resolves the confusion that exists in IT/Et job predictions and assessments of hiring needs.
  • Enforcement of existing laws would end much of the need for importing foreign workers

When did IT Staffing get so out of control?

Some of you might not remember the heydays of Information Technology and the dot.com bubble.  Programmers made hundreds of thousands of dollars and had skill sets that included “playing Atari”.  Anyone who had any degree of Information Technology experience, most of which was self-taught, could write their own ticket for jobs and salaries.

Then the bubble burst…

Thousands of IT people got laid off and had to find work in other domains.  Many of them never returned, and their vast knowledge was lost.  Offshore outsourcing emerged, and the IT department lost its shine and its value.

We are witnessing the results of a lack of adherence to any reputable and reliable frameworks in Information Technology management. Every day, companies are being hacked, emerging technologies leave us wondering how to keep up, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone to turn to solve these problems.

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Small and large businesses, education, industry and compliance need to build more collaborative relationships to re-establish Information Technology Infrastructure.

How many IT people does my company need?

In a recent workgroup discussion, this question generated a multitude of emails, but no hard evidence to support any particular methodology to answer this question.  IT/Et frameworks cross multiple platforms and disciplines.  There couldn’t possibly be a single formula to answer this question.  But there is a progressive infrastructure framework that clarifies how to get value and performance from your IT staff, whether on-site or remote, outsourced or on-site.

Building an IT Infrastructure

Below are the SOC codes that cover the majority of IT/Et job descriptions.  As organizations grow, either by volume, by economics, or both, the natural progression is to move from a low buy in/maintenance patchwork infrastructure to full capacity governance, risk and compliance (GRC).

For full descriptions of the SOC codes below, please visit O*NET Online.

SOC Cybersecurity Workforce

A note of levity in a complicated topic.

  • Below is an excerpt from a posted job description at a medical university for a CISO position in an executive leadership category. If this excerpt doesn’t convince you that something is wrong in IT/Et, I’m not sure what would.

“Physical Requirements: Ability to perform job functions in an upright position. (Frequent) Ability to perform job functions in a seated position. (Frequent) Ability to perform job functions while walking/mobile. (Frequent) Ability to work indoors. (Continuous) Ability to work outdoors in all weather and temperature extremes. (Infrequent) Ability to work in confined/cramped spaces. (Infrequent) Ability to perform job functions from kneeling positions. (Infrequent) Ability to squat and perform job functions. (Infrequent) Ability to perform ‘pinching’ operations. (Infrequent) Ability to fully use both hands/arms. (Frequent) Ability to perform repetitive motions with hands/wrists/elbows and shoulders. (Frequent) Ability to reach in all directions. (Frequent) Possess good finger dexterity. (Continuous) Ability to maintain tactile sensory functions. (Continuous) Ability to lift and carry 15 lbs., unassisted. (Infrequent) Ability to lift objects, up to 15 lbs., from floor level to height of 36 inches, unassisted. (Infrequent) Ability to lower objects, up to 15 lbs., from height of 36 inches to floor level, unassisted. (Infrequent) Ability to push/pull objects, up to 15 lbs., unassisted. (Infrequent) Ability to maintain 20/20 vision, corrected. (Continuous) Ability to see and recognize objects close at hand. (Frequent) Ability to see and recognize objects at a distance. (Frequent) Ability to determine distance/relationship between objects; depth perception. (Continuous) Good peripheral vision capabilities. (Continuous) Ability to maintain hearing acuity, with correction. (Continuous) Ability to perform gross motor functions with frequent fine motor movements. (Frequent)”

Final Thoughts on the Digital Age Workforce

Excellence in Information Technology/Emerging Technology starts with the right partnerships.  Our solutions are based on a deep understanding of the IT Infrastructure and its respective framework needs.  There are no “one size fits all” solutions – only solutions that fit the needs of each business stakeholder.  We build solutions that meet those needs.

While the pathways of Et may be unknown, framework mastery follows established metrics of bench marking and monitoring.  We are bringing back standards and clearly defined metrics to fill job positions, define educational parameters and create pathways for a diverse workforce.

Our strategies propose that the life-long learning process begins in childhood and presumes only the natural end to that cycle.  The new digital age workforce has the power to transform business cultures and build a diverse workforce.

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