Networking Job Sector Is Booming, IDC Says
If The Graduate's Mr. McGuire were to give Ben Braddock one word of career advice today, it might very well be "networking" and not plastics.
If The Graduate's
Mr. McGuire were to give Ben Braddock one word of
career advice today, it might very well be "networking" and not plastics.
According to a recent study from market watcher IDC, there's currently a 60,000-person
shortfall of networking talent, with demand expected to outpace supply through
2011. Right now, IDC said, about 14 percent of the North American IT workforce
works on IP networks; over the next four years, however, that tally is expected
to more than double to 30 percent, or 780,000 workers.
IDC cited shortages in a handful of skill areas, including network security,
wireless and voice. In fact, more than one-third of respondents identified a
pressing need for networking pros with voice specialties, while almost 20 percent
cited wireless needs.
In addition, IDC expects that 11 percent of security positions will remain
in 2011 -- again, because of an absence of networking talent.
"This...confirms what many managers in the workforce are already keenly
aware of: There is an acute and growing need for more IT professionals,"
said IDC analyst Cushing Anderson in a statement. "With more and more businesses
moving critical operational functions over to the network, the IT department
is assuming a much more strategic role in the organization and needs its infrastructure
to be designed, implemented and maintained by highly skilled, highly trained
It's shaping up to be an increasingly networked future. According to the IDC
survey, employers in all industries and market segments hope to hire more skilled
networking personnel over the next few years. But they'll have trouble doing
so, IDC projected, resulting in about 60,000 fewer full-time skilled workers
than there are positions each year over the next three years.
This will occasion huge disruptions, first in terms of how enterprises hire,
and second, in how they scale or deploy networking pros or networking services,
with organizations placing a premium on certification (in lieu of outright experience)
and service providers offering more and more managed networking services.
"[T]here is a 'skill gap.' The difference between the supply of skilled workers
and the demand for those skills represents a challenge for networking vendors
and their clients and an opportunity for IT professionals," wrote Anderson,
Marianne Kolding and Susan Lee in IDC's report. "The overall gap between supply
and demand for networking professionals is about 8 percent of the total demand.
The good news is that the overall gap isn't getting any bigger. The bad news
is that in some specialties, such as wireless networking, the gap is large,
and in other segments, such as network security, the gap is growing very fast."
Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.