What’s Causing the IT Labor Shortage in Higher Ed?
3 Strategies to Drive Data-Informed Decision Making in a Tight Labor Market
- Invest in analytics and storytelling expertise
While technology provides the backbone for data warehousing, non-technical staff members can interpret the data and explain the story. You need to invest in data analytics and storytelling expertise to interpret your findings, ask the right questions, and transform your data into messaging that everyone on your campus can understand. At a time when technical staff is in limited supply, it’s worth investing in analytics and storytelling capabilities across your campus.
- Leverage benchmarking tools to support IT hiring and retention
In a tight job market, it can be hard to stay competitive. Benchmarking tools allow college and universities to compare their spending in critical departments like IT to peer institutions. This comparison can provide valuable insights that, in turn, help attract top candidates. For example, at Auburn University in Alabama, higher ed leaders decided to invest more in IT spending after their benchmarking data indicated this was a target area for investment.
- Consider contracting
Some universities are turning to contractors or technology partners to fill the gap. At the University of California San Diego, for example, CIO Vince Kellen sees contractors as a way to access top talent. “The top tech talent, they’re not necessarily seeking permanence in work,” Kellen told CIO magazine. “We recognize that the workers coming into the industry have a different mindset about this than 10 years ago, and we’re positioning our units to take full advantage of that.” Institutions that lean into this approach should consult with their HR and legal teams to ensure that they’re following state labor laws around contracted versus staffed employees
For Future-Ready Institutions, Data Is Critical
Colleges and universities today are under unprecedented pressure to deliver on their missions and maintain financial viability—which means institutions can’t afford to take the easy or cheap route if it compromises their ability to make data-informed decisions. To manage the staffing shortages, institutions will need to get creative, likely employing some combination of the three strategies above. Finally, institutions should consider partnering with an outside vendor who has deep expertise in implementation and analysis services. As a recent Inside Higher Ed article puts it, this would “keep core competencies in-house while outsourcing other functions to vendors who can provide solutions, support and services more cost-efficiently.”
As higher ed leaders face the IT labor shortage, it’s important to remember that analytics is about more than just technology—it’s also about telling a data-driven, mission-focused story via experts dispersed across units and departments. With these strategies in your arsenal, you can build a data-savvy culture on your campus and ready your institution for the future—while supporting the hard work of your existing IT staff.