- The “tech talent shortage” might not be what it seems. March 2023 data from NPower shows that despite the growing number of women of color with tech industry-ready skills, women of color continue to be disproportionately underrepresented in STEM.
- Mainly, the “skill similar” talent pool, as researchers called it, has increased by at least 100,000 people or 4% from 2020 to 2021 — which is the latest year for which NPower has data.
- And yet representation of women of color in tech has only increased by about 1 percentage point from 2011 to 2021.
Research firms, L&D vendors and advocacy groups have continually lamented the lack of available talent for STEM jobs. Last summer, Coursera reported that tech proficiency skills dropped “significantly” in 2021. One in 5 executives told EY that a shortage of IT and analytics job candidates has become a barrier to their business goals. In February, the National Skills Coalition underscored that the majority of open jobs require tech skills, but that 1 in 3 workers surveyed don’t have the necessary foundational skills.
NPower’s research partner, Lightcast, analyzed the women of color talent pool to assess where existing talent is already “tech-enabled” and “skill-similar.” One example that the teams highlighted were the more than 300,000 American Indian, Black and Latina women in customer service, using CRM software and digital productivity tools. Another example highlighted was the healthcare field, where women of color are highly represented; in their work, they are required to use electronic medical record software along with other types of databases.
As more than 400,000 tech and tech-adjacent jobs remain unfilled — despite ongoing layoffs, Npower said — women of color continue to be historically underrepresented in STEM despite skill gains. This gap between recruiting needs and untapped talent hints at what may be a bigger, underlying issue regarding the tech talent shortage: systemic bias