Technology Skills Gap: Fact or Fiction? Part I

Politicians, analysts, editors and corporate hiring managers alike recognize a significant disparity in the level of education American students receive when compared to the rest of the world. International science and math assessment tests continue to show American students falling further behind their international peers. While the United States invests more in public education than any other country, recent budget cuts have crippled education at both the K-12 and college levels. This unique challenge poses a threat to America's competitiveness in the global labor market for high-tech jobs.

Despite completing specified requirements for majors, university graduates today are finding it difficult to obtain employment, especially in the STEM fields. Research by industry analysts has shown that in every major geographic region, there is a substantial shortfall between the supply of qualified professionals and the demand for networking and IT skills. This skills gap affects everyone from businesses to individuals that are worrying about being globally competitive today and in the future.

Many organizations are looking to take advantage of technologies like unified communications, mobility, big data, and cloud solutions (to name a few) to enhance business operations and remain competitive in their sectors. Implementing and supporting such solutions requires highly specialized engineers to design, install and manage networks as the backbone of these deployments. If Cisco didn't develop a plan to address this problem, it wouldn't be able to help customers adopt new technologies or have partners capable of selling and installing advanced equipment.

To address these growing concerns, companies like Cisco have implemented unique measures to set up programs that produce high-quality talent on a global scale. The intent is not focused on one company's ability to hire, but rather, having hirable talent available to the technology industry at large.

I recently had the opportunity to discuss the myths and realities of the technology skills gap with Gary Beach, publisher emeritus of CIO Magazine, and author of "The US Technology Skills Gap." Below is the first part of our conversation - watch and let us know what you think about the talent gap. Is it real? Is it overblown? What should we be doing to overcome it?