What will software engineering talent shortages look like over the next 5, 10 and 15 years.
Thank you for your question about what software engineering talent shortages would look like over the next 5, 10, and 15 years. The short answer is that after searching extensively, I couldn't find any study or analysis with hard number on what software engineering shortages would look like in either 5, 10 or 15 years, however, I found that software engineering jobs in the US is expected to increase by 186,000 (17%) between 2014 and 2024, and the global cybersecurity workforce (majority of which employ software engineers) will have over 1.8 million talent shortfall in 2022. Below you will find a deep dive of findings.
METHODOLOGY AND DEEP DIVE
I searched industry databases, U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics database, relevant studies, trusted media sites and statistics databases extensively for data that will help quantify the projected software engineering talent shortfall in the coming years. Although I found a couple of relevant data and analysis with projections on future and current software engineering talent shortfalls, specific data for even the next 5 years was hard to come by. Also, for this research, I interpreted software engineering and software developers as the same given that a lot of studies and reports do not differentiate between the two.
It is projected that 1 million technology jobs will go unfilled by 2020. This data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics projection that there will be 1.4 million jobs in computing and only 400,000 graduates by 2020 to fill it. However, apart from the fact this number is not specifically for software engineers, it is also misleading given that this study shows that 59.8% of those with a software engineer, programmer, or computer scientist title do not have a computer science degree. In addition, another study has shown that 36% of those in the IT profession do not have a computer science degree. So basing talent shortage on just the number of those graduating from college as a couple of media report on the subject did is inaccurate.
There will be 3 jobs for every computer science graduate in 2016. There were also 223,000 unfilled coding jobs in the US in 2016. The BLS also expects that between 2014 and 2024, 186,600 software developer job would have been added in the US. This represents a job increase of 17%. The demand for software engineering job is expected to increase by 28-32% depending on the exact job. I couldn't find an estimate of the number of software engineers that will be entering the labor force but according to Microsoft, about 40,000 people graduate with a Computer Science degree each year. If we apply this statistics for 2014-2024, it would mean that there will be approximately 400,000 new graduate computer scientist between 2014 and 2024, however, data on the number of these that are software engineers is unavailable so we can't provide a reliable estimate of the shortfall. I couldn't find any data beyond 2024.
In terms of global data, I found that there will be 26.4 million software developers in the world in 2019. However, I couldn't find the number of expected software engineering jobs globally in 2019 or beyond so I couldn't calculate the expected shortfall.
The most helpful study I found is the one conducted by Frost and Sullivan. The study found that the global cybersecurity workforce will be short by 1.8 million in 2022. This research was done shortly after a similar research by Global Information Security Workforce Study (GIWS) found that there will be 6 million cybersecurity jobs in 2019, with a projected talent shortfall of 1.5 million. This is relevant because cybersecurity jobs are mostly filled by software engineers and the "top paying cybersecurity job is a security software engineer with an average annual salary of $233,333" in the US.
According to Indeed, in the US currently, there are 66.7 job seekers for every 100 cybersecurity job. In the UK, the number of talent is just 31.6 for every hundred jobs. You can find stats on some other developed countries here. However, this data is based on people that apply for jobs on its platform, and some employers complain that majority of those that apply for software engineering positions are mediocre and do not have the skills to fill these positions. So it is likely the current talent shortfall is higher than Indeed's data show.
Generally, a lot of analysts believe that the demand in the years to come will be high as the world continues its progress on AI, machine learning, virtual reality and IoT. However, hard numbers are hard to come by because the shortage in the coming years, specifically for software engineering talent, has not been studied, especially for as far as 10 to 15 years time.
Currently, however, there is no doubt that the skill is in high demand and firms are struggling to recruit high-quality talent. For instance, a study of job shortages in developed countries found that the top 5 most in-demand professions are "software engineers and developers, followed by electronics engineers, mechanical engineers, nurses, and doctors." Glassdoor also lists software engineering job as one of the 7 that remains unfilled on average of 2 to six months. Indeed also released a study of the best jobs in 2017 based on salary and demand, and software engineering and development jobs occupied 7 of the top 10 positions.
To wrap it up, although I couldn't find definite projections on the software engineering job shortage in 5, 10, and 15 years, I found that the job shortage is going to be at least 1.8 million globally in 2022 since this is the number of talent shortfall projected for cybersecurity jobs which are dominated by software engineers.
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