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5 Things Keeping IT Leaders In Northeast Ohio Up at Night

Estimated Read Time: 7 minutes

Technology is one of the most demanding professions in existence. Daily, we sprint against the clock to stay ahead of innovation and defend against cybersecurity threats. Meanwhile, advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence are having a dramatic impact on how we run our course. But these issues are child’s play compared to the battle IT leaders in Northeast Ohio are soon to face. Today, we’re investigating the top 5 things keeping local IT experts up at night.


1. The Globalized Job Market

A decade ago, we only had to worry about contending with other Northeast Ohio companies for top talent. Even then, it was a scrap fight for skilled developers and IT professionals. The speed and reliability of the internet paired with our growing dependency on the cloud globalized the job market. Today, you’re not just competing with neighboring zip codes for the best and brightest. You’re competing with the world, including bigwigs like Amazon, GitHub, and Salesforce. This proliferation of remote opportunity is drying out the local talent pool, and as the IT industry continues to inflate, the problem is expected to worsen.

2. Talent Migrating to Tech Cities

Speaking of the job market, something else is drawing tech talent away from Ohio — entire cities that are flourishing in business and technology. These “tech hubs” represent a huge opportunity for IT professionals and software developers. The top ten list includes:

1. Seattle, WA
2. Washington, DC
3. Detroit, MI
4. Denver, CO
5. Austin, TX
6. San Francisco, CA
7. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX
8. New York City, NY
9. Orlando, Fl
10. Raleigh-Durham, NC

Before you go into a full-blown night sweat, rest a little easier knowing that the Cyberstates 2018 report ranked Ohio 10th in the nation for tech industry workers. We have the people now, but make no mistake —these metropolises represent some of our toughest competition.

3. The Aging Workforce

By 2020, 1 in 4 residents in half of Ohio’s 88 counties will be 60 years of age or older. The median age for the majority of Northeast Ohio’s 16 counties is over 40 and 50.

Ashtabula — 42.2
Columbiana — 53.9
Beachwood — 50.3
Geauga — 44.2
Lake — 43.3
North Canton — 44.0

As a result of our aging population, Northeast Ohio will struggle to keep up with advancing technology in several ways:
1. The younger population will seek opportunity in more youthful communities like Columbus, Ohio (with a median age of 31.8 and Smart City plans in the works).
2. Older employees may choose to prioritize their career exit strategy over long-term career growth. Without a strong commitment to ongoing training, your company as a whole will become less adaptable to change and by default — less competitive.
3. Generational gaps in the technology workforce make it difficult for leadership to engage employees. As you know, poor employee engagement has a direct impact on acquisition and retention rates.

4. Rapid Growth On The Horizon


Here’s where things get interesting. As the Northeastern Ohio workforce ages, the demand for IT talent is going to skyrocket. We’ve already added 8,000 new tech jobs since 2016 and saw a 50 percent increase between 2016 and 2017 in the number of job postings related to emerging technologies like the IoT, smart cities, and AI. This percentage will continue to climb as technology becomes a more integral part of the way we live and work.

5. The Tech Talent Gap

Lastly, The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts there will be 1.4 million technology-related job openings in the US in 2020, but only 400,000 graduates with the skills required to fill them. That leaves us with a deficit of about 1 million unfilled high-tech job openings, and a very small talent pool that will undoubtedly get overfished by tech cities and companies that offer the best in terms of career growth, culture, opportunities, and location. If you thought it was already tough to find decent IT professionals, just wait. It’s about to get a lot worse.

Why The Tech Talent Gap?
The same question plagues all tech leaders who toss and turn at night. Why is there a nationwide deficiency in professional technology talent? Unfortunately, there are many catalysts, but the one with the deepest roots involves our outlook on education.

Computer Science is one of the most in-demand college degrees, but according to Gallup, only 40% of grade schools nationwide offer foundational Computer Science classes. More specifically, only 131 schools in Ohio . In an increasingly tech-centric job market, the basics aren’t being taught. It’s not just young students, either. Universities in Ohio didn’t graduate a single new teacher prepared to teach Computer Science in 2016. In 2015, the total number of graduates from Ohio with a degree in Computer Science was less than 1,200.

Worse still — all the education in the world can’t stack up against the hardest truth to swallow. A degree in Computer Science or a related field is a vital start, but it isn’t good enough anymore. Technology is evolving so fast that, as soon as one position is filled, another is needed. There is a continuous demand for specific technology skillsets, but little foresight into what those skills are until they smack us square in the face. The only way for organizations to keep pace is by working in a constant state of continued learning. Wouldn’t it be great if tech employees in Northeast Ohio had a “gym membership” for education that strengthened their IT skills as a normal part of their lifestyle?

It turns out, there is. Click here to learn more.


Eric Wise