Software talent demand outpacing supply

The demand for software development talent continues to accelerate across all industries. As organizations in both the public and private sectors increasingly rely on software solutions, skilled professionals are becoming a necessity.

However, as a recent report from The Boston Consulting Group revealed, demand for software development is outpacing supply by a tremendous degree, making it difficult for firms to meet their business process needs in a variety of capacities.

A serious skill shortage
The BCG study, "Code Wars: The All-Industry Competition for Software Talent," noted that software solutions are now essential for a diverse range of critical operations, including data analysis, running facilities, customer management and more. Without sufficient software talent, organizations will increasingly struggle to thrive in these areas.

"These trends present companies, especially those in non​-tech industries that nevertheless need tech talent, with multiple challenges," said Guy Gilliland, a BCG senior partner and a co-author of the report. "If such companies cannot attract and retain the software expertise they need with current recruiting and retention efforts – and many cannot – they risk falling behind in technological capability and product development."

Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the BCG report noted that there were more than 1 million software developers working in the United States in 2012. That year, demand for such professionals outpaced supply by 35,000 positions. However, this figure is expected to grow by more 20 percent per year through 2022, the BCG predicted.

Security concerns
The single biggest issue regarding the lack of available software talent concerns cybersecurity. According to the report, there are currently 200,000 unfilled software security positions among U.S. organizations.

In particular, firms are looking for network security experts with experience relating to Web and enterprise firewalls. This shortcoming is attributable to a number of factors. These include the growing popularity of cloud-based solutions, bring-your-own-device policies and Agile software development, the BCG report stated.

Management issues
Clearly, the imbalance between software talent supply and demand is a major obstacle for the federal government and other organizations as they strive to adapt their operations in the coming years. However, this is not the only issue which firms will struggle with in the field of software development. As BCG senior partner and report co-author Raj Varadarajan noted, management is a tremendous challenge.

"Fast-rising demand is one problem, but from a management standpoint, the issue is far more complex," said Varadarajan. "Companies also face the challenge of determining the skills they need for their strategy and product development. They need to build the capability, if they have not already done so, to translate corporate and product strategies into resource plans, specifically with respect to software talent."

This is a particularly important issue for the U.S. government as it increasingly turns its attention toward open source software development. Speaking to Opensource.com, industry veteran David Wheeler explained that the government is now leveraging these solutions far more than ever before to meet a diverse range of IT needs. In order to leverage open source software development safely and effectively, though, human resources are critical.

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