Everywhere you go, people seem to be talking about the internet of things (IoT). The IoT is that increasingly growing body of electronic devices interconnected across the internet. It covers everything from smart refrigerators to the virtual assistants being built into our cars. Even the cars themselves are part of the IoT. But the future of the IoT may be in danger if technology developers cannot find a way to attract a much larger workforce.
Few industries are struggling to find skilled workers as much as IoT focused technology. According to a study conducted by Canonical, makers of the wildly popular Ubuntu Linux distro, some 68% of all technology companies in need of IoT professionals are struggling to fill open positions. They cannot find workers with the right skills, let alone relevant experience.
Canonical says the most difficult positions to fill are those dealing with:
- big data and analytics
- embedded software development
- embedded electronics
- IT security for the IoT
- artificial intelligence.
Without enough skilled and experienced tech workers to push projects forward, companies will have to slow down their IoT development considerably. That could ultimately lead to reduced R&D on technologies and projects that have clear potential but no one to push them forward.
The Nearshore Solution
Multiple solutions have been proposed to address the workforce shortage now engulfing technology and IoT development. One such solution is to push full ahead with nearshore outsourcing. It is a practical solution for a couple of reasons. First, nearshore software development is already fully entrenched in the U.S., Latin America, and certain portions of Europe. Companies like Austin-based iTexico have established a nearshore model that is highly adaptable to the IoT problem.
Second, there are certain countries and regions that are pushing out technology workers in record numbers. Countries like Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina are bound and determined to become nearshore leaders in the Western Hemisphere. As such, they are doing everything they can to encourage young people to get technology training.
It should be noted that the nearshore solution cannot fully address the worker shortage on its own. Latin American countries churning out skilled technology workers for nearshore operations in support of Mexican, American, and Canadian companies does not do anything for Europe, Asia, or Canonical’s Australia.
What we really need is a technology push in every developed country. Here in the U.S., the IoT sector would benefit greatly from a new way of looking at technology employment. Rather than continuing to emphasize belabored four- and six-year degrees that spend a lot of time teaching future technology workers things they do not need to learn, perhaps it’s time to start looking at technology the same way we look at the trades.
Focused, Targeted Training
What today’s companies need is a steady stream of new tech workers capable of stepping in and getting to work from day one. The problem with four- and six-year degree programs is that technology is moving faster than education. Students come out with their degrees yet already behind.
Approaching technology more like a trade would facilitate more focused, targeted, and highly specialized training for specific kinds of tasks. This is exactly what the IoT needs. Further IoT development requires specialists in artificial intelligence. It needs skilled workers who know all the ins and outs of big data rather than just possessing a broad knowledge. IoT development needs embedded software developers with IoT tunnel vision.
The future of the IoT rests in the workforce. Are we willing to do what it takes to create that workforce? Only time will tell.