Enterprising Developments

Are Insurers Ready for Renewed IT Skills Crunch?

Joe McKendrick
Insurance Experts' Forum, May 26, 2011

A reviving economy is always good news for everyone, but there is one downside: the talented people needed to guide companies up into the new boom markets become scarcer and more expensive. This is especially the case with information technology professionals, at a time when IT is seen as the catalytic force that will open opportunities in the years to come.

But already, in many states across the country, there are far more IT job openings than there are graduates. Dice.com, the online IT job search site, just published a new report on available jobs, and finds far more job openings than applicants to fill them. Dice reports a 60% jump in IT job openings from the worst of the recession about two years ago.

For the IT-intensive insurance industry, this creates new challenges, with many current and potential IT professional being lured to startups, entrepreneurial firms, or firms with “cool” reputations, such as Google, Facebook, or Amazon. The mobile-cloud-social space is gobbling up more talent than is available across the land.

Indeed, entrepreneurial ventures have a lot of appeal to some IT professionals over conventional 9-to-5 jobs. As one developer put it: “Why take a traditional job when I can develop this app for Android and sit here in my house and collect a dollar from 250,000 people a year?”

Consider the IT job market in California, home of the Silicon Valley. There, the Dice analysis shows nearly three jobs open for every new computer science graduate. Andres Castañeda, director of recruiting for Pasadena-headquartered IdeaLab, puts it this way: “There’s really a shortage of people in the Bay Area and that’s such a hub for high tech. We see a lot of poaching there. … Unless a company has a ‘do not touch’ policy, everybody’s fair game.”

Even “distressed” areas with high unemployment rates are seeing hiring booms in the IT field, Dice reports. Tech job openings in Detroit are up 82%, and up 22% in Pittsburgh.

Dice cites the specific top skills in demand (most requested):

1. Oracle

2. J2EE/Java

3. C, C++, C#

4. Project Management

5. SQL

 

And the skills with the fastest-growing demand from a year ago:

1. Android (302%)

2. Cloud (221%)

3. iPhone (220%)

4. JavaScript (88%)

5. PeopleSoft (83%)

For insurance companies, the ability to bring in and keep IT talent is going to get a whole lot more challenging. Insurers will need to not only proactively market themselves as great places to work, but also offer open, flexible working arrangements, perhaps with compensation tied to performance. And, there's the matter of committing professionals to patching 20-year-old mainframe programs versus writing mobile apps, or working off the cloud.

A couple of years ago, the scramble was on to try to keep budgets intact to avoid layoffs among IT staff. Now, the scramble begins to hang on to this talent. 

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

Comments (1)

The demand for IT skills have risen up. Most students today have taken up courses that are related to technology. Technology has been past of our lives. It is the one thing Americans will not be willing to give up to save cash in the economic downturn, as reported by a new study. Cellular phones and Internet services appear to be the new necessities in our modern day. People will get out installment loans to keep these essentials.

Posted by: Danica Q | July 15, 2011 3:28 AM

Report this Comment

Add Your Comments...

Already Registered?

If you have already registered to Insurance Networking News, please use the form below to login. When completed you will immeditely be directed to post a comment.

Forgot your password?

Not Registered?

You must be registered to post a comment. Click here to register.

Blog Archive

It’s Okay to Take a Breather from the Technology Maelstrom

Even in technology, good things may take time.

Customers for Life

Insurers once had a monopoly on lifetime customers, but technology has changed the game.

Smarter Tablet Use Could Transform Insurance

By reducing administrative tasks and automating paperwork, tablets can increase agentsí selling time and help them respond to customers in seconds, not hours.

Insurance Wake-Up Call: Embrace the Shared Economy Opportunities

SMA believes that insurers must embrace a "shared economy," crowdsourcing and open innovation to get ahead in the new marketplace.

The Lion and the Mouse: Start-ups Pitch to Top Insurer

Insurers should be on the lookout for innovative partnership arrangements that produce unique and valuable solutions.

Silicon Valley Ventures

A trip to area hotbed of technological innovation calls into question the potential viability of insurers' legacy systems, operations and processes.