Where are the computer nerds? Shortage of over 40,000 ICT specialists – in Switzerland alone
The ICT professional association of Switzerland has shocked with some incredible news: by 2026 there will be a staff shortage of 40,300 specialists in the information and communication technology sector (ICT). Beware that this number accounts merely for Switzerland, a country with just under 9 million inhabitants. This is the result of an annual study, which analyzed labor market needs with regard to numbers of trainees, immigrants and emigrants as well as retired people. In total, there is an additional need for 88,500 ICT specialists in Switzerland. This is due, in particular, to the strong advancement of digitalization that has now reached all sectors. Currently, this demand can only be met to a good 50 percent.
No graduates available
There are multiple reasons for this shortage: for instance, there are still not enough people being trained in ICT, neither at universities nor in companies. Thus, only 36% of the demand for skilled workers is actually covered by graduates. Although the majority of the demand is actually targeted at graduates, in 2016 only around 9,000 students were enrolled in computer science courses. Furthermore, experience shows that not all ICT graduates ultimately take up a profession in the sector.
What would speak for education and, thus, employment in ICT are both the sector’s particularly low unemployment rate (2.2 %) and a comparably high salary. After completing an apprenticeship beginners already earn CHF 7,400. This is around CHF 1,600 more than what a comparable apprenticeship graduate earns. Moreover, around 3.6% of Switzerland’s ICT positions are currently vacant, compared to 3% across all sectors.
America is facing the same problem…
However, it is not only the Swiss economy that is confronted with the problem of ICT specialist shortage: in 2016 around three million MINT positions remained vacant in the US. Similarly to the situation in Switzerland, the reason for this lack of staff is due to the low number of ICT graduates, which can further be linked to a lack of interest in MINT subjects. Such is the finding of a study by Randstad North America, which reveals that many students were unfamiliar with people in MINT occupations and thus did not know how to develop and use ICT skills. The study furthermore suggests that students imagined MINT jobs to be “made for nerds” and “boring,” expecting that they would “just hang in front of the computer” when employed in the ICT sector. With regard to gender, the study finds that especially girls are disproportionately under-represented in the sector and, thus, all the more in demand in the job market.
Expensive re-education to be expected
What happens, then, if the need cannot be met? Partly it will be covered by people making lateral moves, but such positions will cost companies a lot of money, as they entail re-training and initial periods of inefficiency. Likewise, locations will be outsourced in order to find the right skilled workers. This, too, considerably weakens both the labor market and the economy.
It is therefore recommended to start orientation about the great possibilities in the ICT sector for young people early. At JANZZ, we are happy to advise educational institutions and training companies on their way to increase the number of ICT students and trainees. We offer our know-how and the right data on skills, specializations and general challenges for specialized ICT professions by which the economy can be strengthened and by which it will be possible to dismiss graduates with good job prospects.
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 Umoh, Ruth. 2017. The US has a shortage of tech workers. Here’s how kids and schools can solve the problem. URL: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/23/why-we-have-a-shortage-of-tech-workers-in-the-u-s.html [2018.09.26]
 IWSB. 2018. ICF-Fachkräftesituation:Bedarfsprognose 2026. URL: https://www.ict-berufsbildung.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/01_Deutsch/03_Projekte/PDF/IWSB_ICT-Bildungsbedarf_2026.pdf [2018.09.26]