The younger face of tomorrow’s IT department

The younger face of tomorrow’s IT department
January 18, 2022  |  BY

If it can happen in the sports and entertainment world, it can happen for much less glamorous professions: The youngsters eventually begin to replace the veterans. That’s what happening at an increasing clip in the IT profession.

And the younger generation – those from Gen X and Gen Y – are asking for more than lofty salaries. They also expect 21st century working conditions and more evolved managers.

Granted, it’s not as if long-time IT employees are being benched for up and coming talent like they’re football or basketball players. Rather the long-tenured, many of them Baby Boomers, are simply retiring. To fill their shoes, companies are bringing on IT employees from Generation Y, those born in the 1980s through the mid-90s, and staff from Generation X, who were born between 1965 and 1981. That accounts for 49% and 37%, respectively, of the entire workforce.

In 2021, there were nearly 200,000 more IT openings than 2020. In fact, hiring for IT pros accounted for one of the biggest growth years over the past two decades. This explosive increase is due to the fact that more and more enterprises, adapting to shifts in the economy, are expanding their IT departments with a combination of full-time employees, contractors, and consultants.

To that end, many companies are luring top, up and coming IT talent with offers that can be difficult to refuse. In some cases, they’re offering salaries from 30% to 40% more than their previous salaries. Those numbers aren’t necessarily the norm, as Gartner predicted that salary increases would stay in the 3%-6% range for duration of 2022. However, no matter the amount of pay increase, there’s no question that enterprises must lay out attractive financial packages to meet their demand for highly skilled IT workers.

And when it comes to that demand, companies are most urgently looking to fill roles in data science, cloud architecture design, information security, remote technology, e-commerce and artificial intelligence. Interestingly, many seasoned IT leaders are shifting away from technical roles and taking over pure business-related roles, which is critical for successful digital transformations.

But IT executives are moving on for other reasons beyond retirement and shifting to the business side of the enterprise. They want the same intangible qualities that all employees seek these days, such as more flexible schedules and full-time remote work. Companies need to accommodate these requests to hold on to not only their talent, but also to those with key institutional knowledge who can’t be easily replaced by anyone, of any age.

Another way firms are attracting young talent is by re-thinking how people are managed. While pay and benefits are obviously important factors in accepting a job offer, younger IT pros will also examine how managers treat their staff. In an industry that’s historically been purely about what’s measurable, “softer” attributes like a manager’s communication skills go a long way in a candidate deciding to accept or reject an offer letter.

The reality, however, is that some organizations won’t be able to compete when it comes to salary. In those instances, all hope is not lost. To attract the best, organizations have to offer raises more often than their normal practice, and genuinely develop a culture that appeals to young and ambitious technical professionals. That means helping with skills and career development. Doing so sends a clear message that appeals to the younger generation: We care about your individual career path. And that goes a long way toward bringing on the talent you need, today and tomorrow.