While the United States grapples with an overall labor shortage, there’s one industry in which it’s nothing new: information technology. There were more than one million open IT positions in the US alone in late 2019, and articles about the growing need for tech talent have proliferated for at least a decade.
Yet the IT labor shortage has increased over the past year: 64% of IT executives cited talent shortages as the most significant barrier to the adoption of emerging technology in 2021, compared with only 4% in 2020. Executives even ranked it higher than supply chain issues and cybersecurity threats.
At the same time, we need technology more than ever: To communicate with loved ones, to make our lives easier and especially to help schools, businesses and other organizations run efficiently and effectively. So what can a business owner or manager do about the IT worker shortage?
What’s Causing the IT Labor Shortage?
As we mentioned, the IT worker shortage isn’t new. Businesses have known for years that the adoption of new technologies is outpacing the abilities of the human beings who need to deploy them. Some of the shortage can be traced back to organizations’ hesitance to invest in training for inexperienced employees, preferring instead to hire those with experience – a limited pool that is getting smaller.
When the global pandemic hit, shifts in the way we work caused the IT labor shortage to accelerate even more. As businesses scaled up remote work, they suddenly needed to build new digital infrastructures – and they needed more employees with new areas of expertise, like cloud computing, mobile device security and networking. In 2021, 58 percent of IT professionals reported an increase in emerging technology investment in 2021, compared with 29 percent in 2020.
With increased demand for their skills, IT workers found themselves in better negotiating positions. That could be why 72% of tech workers are thinking of quitting or exploring new job opportunities in the next 12 months. Many workers are burned out, and they’re going elsewhere to get the professional development and flexible work schedules they desire.
4 Ways to Combat the IT Labor Shortage
New technologies undoubtedly benefit your business, school or organization. While it may feel like the IT worker shortage is beyond your control, there are solutions you can implement to help mitigate its effects and find new ways of operating.
1. Plan Ahead
Many organizations are still operating on the old-school model: When an IT worker quits, they backfill the role. But filling an in-demand tech role takes an average of 61 days, almost 20 days longer than a non-tech role. Plus, with so many leaders focused on implementing emerging technologies, it’s a good bet that you’re going to need to grow your IT team in the future. So why not forward-fill, instead of backfill?
Get ahead of the IT labor shortage by making a plan detailing which tech you want to roll out and when, then focus on hiring ahead of time. Better yet, upskill your existing workforce with both hard and soft skills: 75% of tech workers agree that their companies focus more on attracting new employees instead of investing in the existing ones – a big mistake.
2. Modernize Your Tech
Modernizing your tech in other areas of your organization is often a priority, but what about the tech that makes it possible for your IT team to do their jobs? Is there an existing software, API or AI-enabled tool that could help you mitigate the IT labor shortage by eliminating the need to hire a new person?
Also consider how you can more fully modernize your existing tech. If your organization uses mobile devices like tablets or laptops, for example, you don’t just want to ensure those are up-to-date. You’ll also want to make sure you have the best charging stations not only for your current devices but for future technology as well.
3. Automate Your Workflow
The costs of device repair, replacement and sharing go beyond the price of the device itself. When calculating an average labor cost, one hour per exchange and 5 exchanges per location, nearly 250+ hours and $25K+ is spent annually by an IT team manually exchanging devices.
Automating your break/fix and check in/out workflows can save your team hundreds of hours – time that’s particularly valuable during an IT worker shortage.
With a smart locker like the FUYL Tower, you can allow access to a designated bay via RFID or PIN, eliminating the need for slow, face-to-face drop-off and pick-up processes. When a device user, such as a student or employee, submits a request to your Help Desk, your IT team can respond remotely, allowing the student or employee to quickly trade their broken device from a FUYL Tower and get back to being productive. Arbor Park School District 145 saw these benefits first-hand.
CTO David Termunde says, “The Tower is like having another part-time IT person.”
4. Improve Device Tracking and Security
When it comes to a check in/out workflow, tech teams and department managers are wasting time managing daily device checkouts for people like shift workers, substitute teachers and others.
Yet 86% of IT professionals report that someone in their organization has had a laptop lost or stolen – and 56% said it resulted in a data breach. Dealing with lost devices is time-consuming, and considering that 63% of IT managers said their non-security workload increased over the course of 2020, there’s simply no time for unnecessary breaches.
The FUYL Tower perfectly complements your device tracking strategy, helping to improve accountability and ensure devices are returned, plugged in and ready for the next user. Lost devices are reported more quickly so that security processes can be implemented. And it’s easy to regulate who can access devices and when, and help track when devices are returned, helping improve overall device security.
There’s no easy answer to the IT labor shortage. A long-term fix will likely include elements of training, higher pay and benefits and better planning. For now, organizations are smart to look at their device management strategies as one area with a high potential for cost savings and operational efficiencies. Contact the experts at LocknCharge to start improving your strategy today.