Conclusion and Recommendations
This year's higher education IT workforce landscape report identifies trends that have remained relatively stable over the past several years and provides insight into how higher education IT can address the anticipated challenges to hire and retain a sustainable workforce. Higher education IT continues to be able to hire for open positions but has difficulty creating and hiring new positions. Hiring continues to be focused on key positions for IT infrastructure, such as security and network administration. However, the workforce remains largely male and white and is aging. It also exhibits a work environment with larger than expected numbers of members of the LGBQ community but lower than expected numbers of individuals with self-reported disabilities and impairments. If higher education IT "grows its own," it's important to identify opportunities and implement strategies to diversify the workforce to fill existing and anticipated openings.
Quality of life, rather than salary, tops the list of reasons employees may be attracted to and stay in higher education IT. Nontechnical skills are highly valued among higher education IT employees; professional development remains an important means to build those skills so that they can meet an institution's broader aims and objectives, such as leveraging data for strategic decisions. CIOs and managers continue to demonstrate that higher education IT is based on foundational relationships with other sectors of their institution and that collaboration is key to harnessing IT to contribute to institutional objectives. These findings suggest that more work needs to be done to diversify the workforce and to increase the capacity to create new staff positions to address the challenges of digital transformation, student success, and broader institutional aims and objectives.
- Increase the number of women and minorities in the higher education IT workforce and create more opportunities for their advancement to managerial and leadership positions. Clear steps to achieve this include supporting comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategies related to the talent pipeline, building equity into the culture and process of recruiting talent, creating and sustaining inclusive cultures that support the success of everyone, and developing effective and fair management processes that include auditing performance evaluation and compensation practices for potential biases.
- Recruit Millennials to the higher education IT workforce in preparation for the looming retirements of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. The underrepresentation of Millennials in the higher education IT workforce may be corrected by first understanding their long-term career goals, workplace needs, and value systems. Higher education is well positioned to attract Millennial talent by emphasizing the role higher education plays in advancing the greater good, generating opportunities for more creative approaches to how IT works, and valuing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.
- Cultivate a strategic working relationship with human resources to create, fill, and replace positions in a timely manner when needed. Establishing such a relationship can be beneficial when the time comes to reorganize the unit, retrain and reassign employees, and fund and fill positions in a timely manner when they are vacated.
- Explore the possibilities of offering convenience benefits such as flextime, telecommuting, and more vacation time, which may contribute to recruitment and retention by aiding individuals in coordinating their job duties with their personal responsibilities. These benefits can impact quality of life and the work environment, which employees said are the most important factors in staying at an institution; therefore, such benefits can help maintain an effective IT workforce.
- Provide employees with training and other opportunities to develop the technical, business, and managerial skills that they deem to be most important to doing their jobs successfully and advancing their careers. Although each employee may have specific needs based on prior experience, IT sector, assigned duties, and career aspirations, opportunities to learn how to communicate effectively, manage relationships across the institution, communicate with diverse populations, engage in strategic thinking and planning, and manage complex projects provide the greatest value to employees.
- Rethink resource allocations to improve organizational responsiveness and create new positions that will enable implementation of innovations, increase capacity to be early adopters of technology, and keep pace with rapidly developing technologies. IT departments need to be agile when it comes to creating positions to fill gaps in their workforce to meet stakeholders' needs and respond to technological innovations.
- Increase opportunities for professional development activities that focus on data analysis for strategic decision-making and attending higher education IT conferences. Data analysis opportunities for all organizational levels should have clear links to informing strategic decisions to ensure meaningful development activities that will increase technical and management skills.
- Emphasize the strategic importance of the role of the CIO to position IT as a first responder to the cultural, technological, and workforce trends and changes that digital transformation has brought to higher education. CIOs are in a better position to increase the impact and reach of their organization when they report directly to the president of their institution, and they have the greatest impact on shaping and influencing the strategic directions of their institution when they hold a seat on the president's or chancellor's cabinet.