The attractiveness of the IT sector is resilient but growing competition poses risks

If you work in the IT industry, here’s some good news: the sector remains the most attractive globally, according to the 2017 Randstad Employer Branding Research. Ranked consistently among the most desirable sectors by workers in every region around the world, IT has a lot of sought-after employment qualities.

Why did the sector rank so highly? Its impact on everyday lives is certainly one reason, but when asked about the benefits of working in IT, workers said fundamental factors were key. These include a good salary and benefits, a balanced work/life schedule and long-term job security. While these qualities aren’t unique to IT, the findings confirm that companies in the sector sufficiently deliver these employee value propositions.

Creating an employer brand that better resonates with women workers will be increasingly important for IT companies as many try to close the gender gap in their organization. According to the Economist, only 21% of Silicon Valley executives are women, compared with 36% in all other industries. Furthermore, the industry in recent years has been marred by high-profile cases of discrimination, unfair pay practices and sexual harassment. If IT companies hope to compete and attract the younger workers who drive innovation, they must overcome some of the black marks that have consistently dogged its image. This requires a concerted effort to ensure pay parity for all, creating a pleasant work environment for women and offering job flexibility and career progression opportunities.

greater competition from outside

Such steps will help the industry to fend off competition from other sectors. While IT is a perennial favorite among working-age adults around the world, loyalty to the sector is not unconditional. Randstad’s research revealed that 75% of those working in the field are open to switching sectors. This presents a significant problem with retention and engagement.

It's a real concern for the industry at a time when other sectors are also ramping up hires for traditional IT skills such as software developers and data scientists. As digitalization proliferates throughout every kind of business, companies such as automotive manufacturers, logistics outsourcers, medical device makers and many others will increasingly compete with the IBMs and Hewlett Packards of the world. The gap in specialty IT skills, which has been rising in the industry in the past several years, will likely worsen as competition heats up.

looking forward

So what can the industry do to ensure a robust pipeline of workers in the future? Undoubtedly, it will need to enhance its employee value proposition. We are already seeing efforts to promote not just the hygienic benefits of working in the IT industry but also value-added perks such as expanded family leave for new parents, on-site concierge services and child care, unlimited vacation time, paid travel stipends and many more. There seems to be an arms race in Silicon Valley these days to see who can provide the most unique and fun workplace benefit.

Beyond these headline-grabbing initiatives, the industry must continue to engage and nurture young talent, creating scholarships and training program to incentivize today’s students to become tomorrow’s workers. At the same time, it needs to provide robust continuing education for its current workforce. After all, just as many of last year’s IT technologies have already become outdated, the workers who helped developed and support them also risk becoming obsolete in this fast-moving business.
 
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