The IT Skills Gap and the Opportunity for IT Certification

Did you know that there are in excess of one million qualified and well-paying unfilled jobs in the IT industry in the USA?

A study commissioned by CompTIA (the Computing Technology Industry Association) shows that “there are over 1,000,000 open positions in the IT industry in the U.S.” On the other hand it also points out that “nearly 6,000,000 individuals that are unemployed. Many of these individuals are ready and willing to fill these open positions, but lack the necessary skills.”

The Job Market

A 2015 IT Salary Survey of more than 4,800 IT professionals performed by ComputerWorld (April 7, 2015), establishes that the number of job openings for IT Support Technicians will grow by 36% into 2016. With that IT Support is the second fastest growing job in IT. It is also one of the fastest growing job categories in the nation overall. Furthermore TekSystems surveyed 1,300 north-American IT professionals in 2015 and the do confirm above findings i.e. the job openings are there but the skills gap makes it a hard filling the available positions. “Seventy percent of IT leaders view a lack of skills to be the biggest issue when seeking quality candidates […]”

IT Skills Gap in the USA
IT Skills Gap in the USA

So what to do? Some say pump up the volume on those H1B visas! Others would prefer the jobs were given to Americans. One way to go could be to really pump up the volume on certification. Gaining certification in IT Support is of course a strong signal that the candidate has filled that gap.

The IT Certification Tracks

In terms of numbers, the CompTIA A+ certification is the leading certification in this field by a significant margin. In February this year it reached its 1,000,000th certified professional and so has more certified professionals than any other high level professional computer industry certification. Network+ which is one step higher is close to half a million certified individuals and Security+ has already broken the 250,000 mark. Additionally there are over 750,000 Microsoft Certified individuals (mostly MCSE/MCSA).

As you can see for many certification has been the answer to prove their mettle. We still hear a lot of rookies tell us that A+ was their door opener into the IT field. For others Network+ and Security+ in particular can be (or become) a job requirement when they get a job (directly or indirectly through a sub-contractor) with the Department of Defense that imposes certification requirements for several of the skills involved in their work. In other situations many large US corporations will demand certification for several of their positions these are corporations such as RICOH, XEROX, DELL and others. As an example the Geek Squad will often hire without certification but make it a requirement that the individual passes A+ certification within 90 days of hiring date.
These are just a few examples of how IT certification is articulated on the job market. There are of course many more scenarios.

Conclusion

The US IT skills gap is bound to offer a higher level of opportunity including for new entrants. Those with an IT certification and some training will most likely face better chances now than when most of the jobs are more or less filled. It stands to reason that the higher the need in the market place the more flexible the recruiter will have to be. This will work to the advantage of both new entrants and current IT engineers looking at advancing their careers.

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