Middle Tennessee’s need for skilled tech workers keeps growing – but there aren’t enough to go around. What can you do if you can’t find the right people to fill your tech roles?

The tech industry in Middle Tennessee is big – and it’s only going to keep growing.

According to “The State of Middle Tennessee Tech” (authored by Dr. Amy Harris and published by the Middle Tennessee State University Department of Information Systems and Analytics and the Nashville Technology Council), the number of tech-related jobs has grown by 30% from 2012-2017, and it’s expected to continue to do so by a rate of 16% by 2022.

This is a good thing, right?

Yes and no.

The Problem With Growing Demand In Tech

In a vacuum, yes, growth in available jobs in any sector is great for Middle Tennessee – especially given that these numbers directly reflect the actual specific roles in “fuel” industries like healthcare and entertainment, which are considered to be the backbone of the local economy.

The catch is that, with the demand for skilled workers to fill these jobs, you need an actual supply. And Middle Tennessee doesn’t seem to have enough skilled tech workers to go around, nor enough in compensation to offer the ones that are here.

The State Of The Middle Tennessee Tech Hiring Environment

The 2019 Tech Workforce Study (conducted by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, supported by HCA and Vaco) revealed a number of key findings that indicate the challenges employers have found in trying to fill the tech roles in their organizations. To start, it’s difficult to find the number of workers needed to fill all the available positions, which makes finding highly-skilled and relevant candidates even harder.

That’s not all – given the degree of the imbalance between supply and demand for this type of work, employers with chronically understaffed tech teams have found it difficult to attract new talent when their company as a whole is failing to achieve their goals and deadlines. It’s a vicious cycle: clients are frustrated with the low quality of the service or product a company produces, an effect of that company not having enough staff in key tech positions (or resorting to hiring under-skilled workers). This constant state of pressure from management and clients creates an unattractive workplace for employees and potential candidates for the unfilled positions. All of this contributes to a greater degree of staffing turnover, and lower quality of service or product, and so on and so on.

However, the quality of the workplace experience isn’t the only contributing factor. Despite the low cost-of-living in the region, The 2019 Tech Workforce Study also concluded that capable tech candidates are concerned about compensation – and for good reason, as they are paid less than those working similar jobs in other parts of the country.

So far, however, we have only considered industry-wide trends. It’s also important to note how this imbalance of supply and demand in tech jobs and candidates affects key industries.

The Need For Tech Skills In Healthcare

According to the “Healthcare Tech Middle Tennessee 2019” study (authored by Dr. Amy Harris, published by the Middle Tennessee State University Department of Information Systems and Analytics and Nashville Technology Council, underwritten by Nashville Healthcare Council and many others), 33% of the 38,000 tech jobs posted in the region in 2018 were from healthcare-affiliated organizations. Even more pertinent is that no occupation group – Computer Systems Analyst, Business Analyst, etc. – accounted for a majority of those jobs; the range of skills and certifications varied widely, meaning that Middle Tennessee healthcare organizations can’t simply specialize in one specific capability. The numbers show that they actively require a comprehensive tech skillet on their staff.

Regardless of what a practice or clinic specializes in, there is one thing every healthcare entity has in common – technology challenges. Even the most basic IT environment needs constant monitoring and maintenance to stay running smoothly, and as cyber threats become more of a concern the need for better information security measures increases. In fact, security certifications were the most prevalent qualifications called for in healthcare tech job postings examined in the study (specifically, the Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification).

Given the degree to which technology has been integrated into the healthcare sector, Middle Tennessee practices that cannot find qualified candidates for these jobs are left between a rock and hard place. And that’s just in one specific industry – albeit, a major one.

Middle Tennessee Needs More Information Security Specialists

Unfortunately, the region’s difficulty in supplying skilled workers to meet the demands of the tech industry can have worse effects than those on services and products – it will also put information security at risk.

As concluded in the “Information Security Middle Tennessee 2019” study (authored by Dr. Amy Harris, published by the Middle Tennessee State University Department of Information Systems and Analytics and Nashville Technology Council, underwritten by Kraft Technology Group) 4,100 of the tech jobs posted in 2018 were related to information security. In October 2018 alone there were 1,047 active postings for these types of positions, including Information Security Analyst (7.3% of postings), and Security Engineer (4.7% of postings).

That’s not all – in addition to the need for these specific skillsets, among the more common skills requested in the postings, the most prevalent was “Management”. Furthermore, it should be noted that many positions which do not explicitly relate to information security still listed it as a related requirement in the job posting – 40.4% of Database Administrator job postings, for example, called for security skills.

Put simply? Middle Tennessee needs candidates with information security skillsets, both in positions directly related to this field of work, as well as in more general tech positions in management roles and otherwise. Information security is too important and too ingrained in the professional world for Middle Tennessee businesses to do without.

What Can You Do To Fill Your Tech Roles?

If you’re running a business in Middle Tennessee, maybe none of this is news to you. Maybe it’s comforting to know you’re not alone in trying (and failing) to hire all the qualified technicians and engineers you need – but comfort’s not enough.

There has to be a solution, right?

The good news is that there is.

Instead of trying to hire who you need from the increasingly small and under-compensated Middle Tennessee tech workforce, you can outsource your tech needs to a Nashville IT company like Kraft Technology Group instead.

It’s the simplest and most direct way to mitigate the realities of the local tech workforce we explored above. You don’t have to hire, train, manage or directly compensate any internal tech staff – we’ll do it for you.

Furthermore, by investing in Kraft Technology Group to be your IT department, you’re not only overcoming your own tech-related challenges – you’re also contributing to a better workplace for a part of Middle Tennessee’s tech workforce. We take pride in offering rewarding and well-compensated work for our staff members, two qualities that the 2019 Tech Workforce Study found the region to be lacking.

In the end, it’s a win-win for you, and for the region you work in. You get the tech skillsets you need to keep you operational and secure, and you help to promote Middle Tennessee as an attractive base for tech-related careers.

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