New Report Cites Strong Local Demand for Computer Support Technicians
Pathways to Work recently commissioned the report, “An Ideal Candidate: Prevailing Education and Experience Requirement in Dallas Area Technology Job Postings.” The study was a demand supply analysis on the Computer Support Specialist job cluster in Dallas and Collin Counties. This cluster represented eight jobs titles ranging from Help Desk Technician to Information Systems Technician. Utilizing the data tools at Dallas College’s Labor Market Intelligence Center, the report took a closer look at labor market demand for Computer Support Specialists and the education levels of workers working in this position. The study also examined the types of requirements described in job postings associated with the Computer Support Specialist job cluster to determine the prevailing education and experience levels employers sought in the candidate pool. Principals of small companies and hiring managers of larger companies were interviewed to understand their approaches to the hiring process.
Before the pandemic, demand for workers trained for jobs in the Computer Support Specialist cluster in the Dallas area had been expected to be stronger than the national average. In Dallas and Collin counties, the need for these IT workers had been expected to increase by 10.2 percent and 16.1 percent between 2010 to 2021 respectively, while the national growth rate has been slated at 8.3 percent.
Yet, Dallas county education institutions training Computer Support Specialists are decreasing in number of programs and number of graduates while state and national program completions are increasing. In 2004, 28 regional institutions with IT-related programs have produced graduates. In 2018, there are 15 graduate-producing programs. With fewer programs, there has been a 16.8 percent decrease in Dallas county graduates, while graduates in the state and nation have increased by 11.2 percent and 34.8 percent respectively from 2003 to 2017.
The study also looked at the demographic profile of the local Computer Support Specialist workforce. Overwhelming, the workforce was comprised of white males with the majority between the ages of 25 and 34. This indicates an opportunity to diversify the workforce through more robust recruiting efforts, internships, and apprenticeships.
Interviews with employers included questions about how they hire, where they hire and challenges encountered during the hiring process. Until the pandemic hit, labor market was very tight with technology innovations in automation, cloud infrastructure and data analytics driving the types of workers employers needed. As employers described the hiring process, they pointed at looking at technical skills first, followed by job experiences, and then education levels. Employers most often used job search boards and LinkedIn to find candidates. The most prevalent hiring difficulty employers reported having is finding candidates with a good balance of technical and interpersonal skills. First and foremost, employers need workers with deep experience with desktop and mobile hardware, Java, cloud technology and cyber security. However, employers reported having a hard time finding candidates with polished customer service skills as well as the ability to adapt and embrace the company culture.
Read more about the data and employer interviews here.