tech-economy-croppedThe U.S. Labor Department released its monthly jobs report on Friday and the news was generally encouraging.  Nationally, we experienced our 102nd month in a row of job gains. As Peter Eavis of The New York Times wrote, “Everyone can relax a little.”

But from our perspective here in the technology sector, we have to ask ourselves if the jobs numbers are obscuring deeper challenges. “Despite the addition of 196,000 nonfarm jobs in March, the country faces a tight labor market, with a million more job openings than there are eligible workers to fill them. That dynamic is complicated by a pool of workers that lacks the skills for some of the jobs available,” wrote Jeff Cox of CNBC.

As Cox notes in his article, there are plenty of unemployed job seekers “who have skills but can't seem to find the right jobs to fit their qualifications.”

The mismatch between openings and applicants is especially problematic in the tech sector. Earlier last week, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty spoke about the importance of using artificial intelligence to match applicants with jobs they will be passionate about doing. She also said she expects “AI to change 100 percent of jobs within the next five to 10 years.”  

Her comments highlight a major trend that all of us in the tech industry should be watching closely. As a technology leader, I believe we have a genuine responsibility to stay ahead of the curve. 

“Rometty’s call to action comes at a time when the AI skills gap and the future of work exhibit a growing sense of urgency,” Lori Ioannou of CNBC wrote. “The technology sector accounts for 10 percent of U.S. GDP and is the fastest part of the American economy but there are not enough skilled workers to fill the 500,000 open high-tech jobs in the U.S., according to the Consumer Technology Association’s Future of Work survey. Yet the tech industry is concerned that school systems and universities have not moved fast enough to adjust their curriculum to delve more into data science and machine learning. As a result, companies will struggle to fill jobs in software development, data analytics and engineering.”

The continuing success of our industry – which is absolutely critical to the larger economy – depends on our ability to recruit, hire and retain the best workers. In the technology space, acquiring top talent is the ultimate competitive advantage. We need the smartest minds and the most innovative thinkers to drive our industry forward. 

Are we building a talent pipeline? Are we allocating the proper resources for education and training? Are we adopting new models for developing new skills and abilities? Are we providing clear leadership and a strong voice so our elected officials truly understand the needs of the tech economy?

Technology has made our lives easier and more prosperous. But we need to start looking further down the road and making absolutely sure we are building the foundations for continuing growth and success. As technology leaders, we have a responsibility to the future. Let’s fulfill that responsibility.

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