Bob Miano's Blog

An Executive journal

3, 2, 1, time to blast-off any crisis of confidence in the tech job sector

Demand for tech jobs grow but technologists remain anxious

In my last blog I referenced how a growing U.S. economy is creating a surge in demand for domestic technology talent. I quoted a recent report: Cyberstates 2015: The Definitive State-by-State Analysis of the U.S. Tech Industry as evidence of the incredible tech sector jobs potential: "tech jobs were found to have risen more than 11 percent year over year, with over 650,000 job openings in Q4 2014."

However, sentiment from U.S. technology professionals is remarkably muted in the face of this very positive news. Data from the 2015 Harvey Nash Technology Survey indicates that U.S. technologists are among the most pessimistic of their global peers. Only four in 10 U.S. technologists (45 percent) believe domestic technology innovation - a key driver of new tech jobs - will occur in the coming years. This compares to 57 percent of European and 67 percent of Asia-Pacific based technology professionals who believe technology innovation and jobs will be stronger in the future.

Across the globe the U.S. is, by far, identified as the most technologically innovative country, receiving more than twice as many votes as the next nearest country, Japan. So why do technology professionals at home appear to have a crisis of confidence, while those based overseas still look to America as the driver of global technology innovation and jobs?

An (unnecessary) crisis of confidence.

I have to admit I am slightly bemused at this apparent lack of confidence by U.S. technologists in their domestic sector. My own direct experience suggests that demand for top talent by clients of Harvey Nash is at record highs, creative digital and data skills are red hot, and rates remain very positive. There are three possible contributors that I could think of which might influence confidence:

1. Economic growth has not been universal and remains stubbornly constrained in some U.S. states and industry sectors. A recent economic forecast profiled by Reuters suggests a softening in high-tech U.S. manufacturing, which would impact job security and confidence in that sector.

2. Not all tech jobs are in high demand. New research soon to be released by Harvey Nash indicates that some tech job roles are being threatened by disruptive technology, but this has always been the case for technologists who have to constantly reinvent their skills for new innovations.

3. Pay is not rising as fast as profits. There has been much written about pay inequality - with workers earning disproportionally less than senior executives - including this piece in The Wall Street Journal. However, average U.S. tech job salaries ($105,924) compare favorably with global peers ($103,326), although contractor day rates are lower: U.S. $420 per day on average compared to a global average of $581. Pay analysis from the 2015 Harvey Nash Technology Survey

Tech opportunities that are literally out-of-this-world

While recognizing some technologists may have concerns, I believe that with the right IT skills and IT diversity to fuel it, the next generation of technology innovation is already powering U.S. businesses to new heights. The private sector U.S. space program is a perfect example of America's future technology potential. Worth billions of dollars already, and growing rapidly, tens of thousands of highly skilled technologists are involved in a program to deliver cargo to the International Space Station on behalf of NASA, investing in the near-space tourism industry, even planning manned missions to Mars. None of this would be possible without a strong domestic tech jobs market, and its potential can't be realized without confidence in our ability to innovate well into the 21st Century.

The countdown has already started for the next era of technology innovation. It may not have reached every corner of the U.S. economy yet, but as the world continues to look to us for innovation leadership we only have to tune in for the next space-rocket launch by a U.S. tech company to realize how out-of-this-world the potential in our industry really is.