News Release

Study Finds Pervasive Networking Talent Shortfall in North America

Demand for Networking Professionals to Outstrip Supply through 2011
Jul 28, 2008

SAN JOSE, Calif., July 28, 2008 - Cisco, in collaboration with the Cisco Learning Institute, today announced the results of a study on networking labor needs in North America. According to an IDC white paper sponsored by Cisco Learning Institute, "Networking Skills in North America: Trends, Gaps and Strategies," there is a 60,000-person shortfall between the supply of networking talent and the market demand for highly skilled information technology (IT) workers in the workforce today. As the demand grows for IT professionals, who now represent 14 percent of the workforce, this gap is expected to continue through 2011.

IDC also found that shortages in specialty skills areas, such as network security, wireless and voice are particularly troubling. More than 35 percent of the businesses surveyed identified an immediate need for voice specialists, while 19 percent indicated that they have a need for a wireless expert. IDC also estimates that 11 percent of security specialist positions will be unfilled in 2011 because of a lack of skilled professionals, representing a gap of nearly 35,000 positions.

"This white paper confirms what many managers in the workforce are already keenly aware of: There is an acute and growing need for more IT professionals," said Cushing Anderson, IDC analyst. "With more and more businesses moving critical operational functions over to the network, the IT department is assuming a much more strategic role in the organization and needs its infrastructure to be designed, implemented and maintained by highly skilled, highly trained individuals."

Other key findings of the IDC white paper include:

  • Employers of all sizes and in all industries surveyed indicated that they will expand their skilled networking personnel over the next four years.
  • The projected supply of skilled networking workers is not expected to keep pace with demand, resulting in an 8 percent gap, or 60,000 full-time skilled workers each year over the next three years.
  • The emphasis on more specialty skills also implies that the competencies required in networking professionals are evolving in order to support employers' increasing dependence on their networks.

"The IT workforce is changing," said Amy Christen, vice president of corporate affairs and the Cisco® Networking Academy®. "With networks becoming more ubiquitous in business and everyday life, it is essential to raise awareness of the need for IT professionals. Students of all backgrounds need access to the knowledge-based economy, so they can further their educational and occupational goals while keeping America competitive in the global economy."

IDC collected data from 500 telephone interviews with network managers across a wide swath of industries and business types and sizes and correlated that data with projections from a number of sources including the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The report is available at: