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The Current State of IT: Survey

Information Technology (IT) professionals serve as the support backbone for workers in countless industries, ensuring desktop computers, printers, laptops, and other devices and technology products continue to function as intended. Employees rely on the IT worker to fix issues effectively with timely resolution so they can be productive in their daily work environment.

The current state of IT provides a challenging yet rewarding career path for tech minded individuals with solid problem solving skills. Today’s job environment for IT professionals shows improvements over past years in general job satisfaction, particularly in categories like work-life balance, reduced “always-on” expectations, and an overall sense of pride in career choice. Still, IT leaders continue to navigate the challenges of skills shortages and the impact on IT operations on a corporate level.

Here are the key highlights of the IT Skills Gap Survey, quarterly IT “Reality Check,” and third annual IT Stress and Pride survey, all issued by TEKsystems®, a top provider of IT staffing solutions, IT talent management expertise, and IT services.

Understanding the IT Skills Gap

According to data from the surveys, IT professionals (78%) and IT leaders (80%) alike agree that the IT industry is currently muddling through a very real IT skills gap. Only about a third of leaders and workers surveyed believe their company possesses the current skills required to address their needs in-house. Employees and leaders don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye on the reasoning behind the skills gap–leaders perceive a lack of skills while IT workers believe it’s due to a mismatch in education or experience.

Empty Roles Due to Lack of Skills

Unfilled positions continue to remain empty until IT leaders find the right fit. Seventy percent of leadership felt a lack of skills prevented them from hiring for these positions, specifically through a lack of preferred technical skills, preferred soft skills, and general lack of experience. Only 25% of IT workers felt a lack of skills was the issue at hand. At times, candidates may also be found overqualified, lacking a preferred educational background, or simply not the right fit for the corporate culture. Hiring challenges occurred most frequently for roles of security professionals and architects, programmers and developers, software engineers, and project managers.

Organizational Impacts of Unfilled Positions

When the IT department is operating at less than optimal speed and efficiency, delays and difficulties begin to spill over into other departments. IT leadership found instances of declining operational efficiency in other parts of the business, especially in connection with hiring delays and roles remaining unfilled for long periods of time. TEKsystems® noted additional difficulties arising due to the skills gap and a short-staffed IT department–including declining employee morale and performance, higher stress levels on the job, and increased employee turnover.

IT Budget Increase Expectations Rise

IT leaders may find better success in filling empty IT positions and delivering needed solutions throughout the corporate enterprise. Fifty percent of IT leaders surveyed in June currently expect their 2015 IT budgets to increase–an increase of 5% over the 45% of leaders who initially expected higher budgets at the start of the year. The survey also found that the percentage of IT leaders who expected budgets to stay the same or increase did stay fairly consistent across quarters, with 84% in the beginning of the year, 86% in March, and 85% in June.

Greatest Impact in IT Trends

The top five ranked initiatives for the IT industry for the first half of 2015 were security, mobility, cloud computing and business intelligence (BI) / Big Data, according to the survey. Security held onto its top spot as they year progressed while mobility climbed one rank spot to No. 2 and DevOps sailed from No.10 at the start of the year to No. 3. Cloud computing initiatives bumped up to No. 4 from No.5 while BI / Big Data took a drop down to No. 5 from No. 2.

Least Impact in IT Trends

From the start of 2015, the survey found that the least impactful initiatives included open source, VoIP / unified communications, social technologies, and consumerization of IT. At the year’s halfway point,data center consolidation–originally thought to be a more impactful project–plunged down 6 spots to No. 12.

Confidence in Ability Soars

IT leaders’ confidence has climbed 3 points since the start of 2015, with 74% of leaders reporting confidence in their team’s ability to satisfy the company’s IT needs. Since the beginning of the year, three of the neutral ratings have moved to more confidence while four have moved to less confidence. Still, the overall level of confidence is at a highpoint for the year 2015.

Full-Time and Temporary Hiring Expectations

Numerous IT leaders surveyed adjusted their expectations on full-time hiring since the start of the year. Of the original 40% who expected hiring increases at the start of the year, some now expect hiring to stay the same (+9%) and a few expect decreases in hiring (+3%). Regarding temporary hires, 54% of IT leaders expected temp hiring to hold steady while 36% expected increases and 10% expected decreases as of the beginning of 2015. Data from the year’s halfway point suggests that most of the leaders still expect temporary hiring to stay the same (56%) while 29% still expect increases and 15% expect decreases.

Job Satisfaction of IT Workers

In general, the work environment and work-life-balance of the IT professional is on the upswing. Since 2014’s survey, IT workers have reported lower levels of stress, specifically with fewer workers reporting they would consider leaving a job due to the amount of stress. Regarding the most stressful part of the IT career, 41% of surveyed entry-level to mid-level IT employees cited this as keeping abreast of technology advances. Other stressful areas noted include keeping up with organizational requests and workload, work-life balance impacts, and coworker interactions.

On another positive note, many IT professionals are finding their downtime is no longer abused when they are out of the office on vacation. A big majority of senior level IT pros (83%) say they are not expected to be available at all when they are on vacation, as compared to last year’s meager 30%. Entry to mid-level IT workers also felt they could enjoy their vacations uninterrupted, at 85% compared to last year’s 74%. Improvements also showed in the way of expected 24/7 no-excuse accessibility, with just 13% of senior IT workers and 15% of mid-level IT workers being obligated as compared to last year’s 61% and 27%, respectively.

Overall, the current state of IT continues to improve for workers and leaders. Pride in career choice and overall job satisfaction have both improved since 2014 survey data. Most IT professionals surveyed indicated that they would go into a career in the IT industry again if they had to do it all over.