Tech Industry Optimism High in 2020. What’s Driving It?

Technologists are optimistic about their prospects in 2020 and beyond, according to a year-end analysis by CompTIA. That optimism, in turn, stems from a belief that their skills are vital to companies’ success.

In the United States, some 86 percent of technologists feel “very good” or “fairly good” about their prospects, slightly ahead of their counterparts in other countries (for example, in the U.K., some 75 percent of technologists reported feeling either very good or fairly good).

“The primary reason for the positive sentiment is high demand for technology skills, which in turn leads to robust career options,” CompTIA reported (PDF). “There is also a sense that the importance of technology to business objectives makes technology a more integral part of business operations and gives IT pros an opportunity to play a role in the direction of the organization.”

Here’s a deeper breakdown of the reasons behind the optimism:

Other data seems to back up CompTIA’s assertions. For example, the unemployment rate within the tech industry remains notably low, and employers willing to pay out sizable salaries to technologists with in-demand skills such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (A.I.).  

Despite Optimism, Fears Remain: Outsourcing, Complexity

But not everything is sunshine and roses: technologists also have some very real fears as the New Year gets underway. One key concern: As IT infrastructure evolves and becomes more complex, technologists must rapidly evolve their skills in order to keep up—an exhausting race with absurdly high stakes for an individual career.

“The first step in handling complexity is to grow individual skills, but as things scale up, it becomes untenable for one person to handle it all,” CompTIA reported. “This can lead to a feeling of uncertainty and also a feeling that better results are expected even though budgets are flat or shrinking.”

That wasn’t the only factor weighing on technologists’ optimism in 2020. “In the U.S. and Canada, there is slightly more worry over outsourcing. In the UK and ANZ, one of the main issues is an inability to pursue skill growth in the current role.”

Outsourcing (and the replacement of full-time employees by subcontractors) is an emotionally fiery issue for many technologists within the U.S., although that hasn’t stopped many companies from engaging in the process. For example, AT&T is currently engaged in a sweeping round of layoffs paired with outsourcing, according to a recent report by Axios

AT&T is reportedly sourcing its employee-replacing contractors from business-services firms such as IBM and Tech Mahindra. “We are continuously working to be more efficient in our operations,” an AT&T spokesperson told Axios.

The Trump administration has attempted to curb companies’ use of the H-1B visa, which those business-services firms rely upon for their pipeline of contractors. A recent analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data found that denial rates for H-1B petitions had skyrocketed to 24 percent through the third quarter of fiscal year 2019. However, that has clearly failed to settle technologists’ fears about everything related to outsourcing and subcontracting.