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Research Shows Employers Struggle with Shortage in Software Development Talent

Research from TECNA, Apollo Education Group and University of Phoenix provides insights to help improve size, quality and sustainability of software development workforce

PHOENIX, Feb. 11, 2015 – The nonprofit Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) recently partnered with Apollo Education Group (Nasdaq: APOL) and its subsidiary, University of Phoenix, to conduct an in-depth study of America’s software development talent shortage and devise solutions for employers, educators, legislators and the industry.

In a survey of 760 employers across 29 states in the United States and three Canadian provinces, 83 percent of respondents reported a shortage of software development professionals, due mostly to the lack of qualified local talent. More than two-thirds of the employers surveyed said they are taking action to address the shortage by offering internships and training, and by building professional networks.

“Software engineers are critical to the functioning of nearly every organization and industry, so closing the talent gap is a high priority for TECNA’s regional technology councils and the employers we serve throughout the North American continent,” said Bob Moore, executive director of TECNA. “Partnering with University of Phoenix and Apollo Education Group to build learning opportunities relevant to what employers need in their talent is a part of the total solution.”

The research yielded additional findings about specific skill gaps and educational requirements for software development careers. Of those surveyed, 65 percent of employers indicated that programming, development and engineering are critical skills for mobile developers and 77 percent of employers indicated these skills are critical for Application Developers/Programmers. For web developers, 54 percent of employers noted that web design and technologies are the most critical skills.

“TECNA and our technology council members are currently working to address this workforce shortage in the short term by convening workforce summits with regional stakeholders; serving as ambassadors to potential tech employees; and in other instances partnering with area economic development organizations to promote the merits of a particular geographic location for companies and talent,” said Steven G. Zylstra, TECNA chairman and president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. “To identify and prepare for future tech talent, tech councils are supporting STEM legislation, SciTech festivals, career mentorship opportunities, and partnering with Code.org and the Association of Science-Technology Centers to foster hands-on, experiential STEM learning opportunities.”

Software development professionals held more than 1 million jobs in the United States in 2012, and that number is expected to increase by 22 percent to more than 1.2 million jobs by 2022, significantly faster than average job growth for all occupations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.1

“To build a talent pipeline that can meet the demand for skilled software engineers in the coming years, employers will need to collaborate with educators and policymakers to ensure greater emphasis on career-relevant education,” said Jane Oates, vice president of External Affairs, Apollo Education Group.

In the survey, 69 percent of respondents stated that soft skills such as communication, collaboration and problem solving are equally important as technical skills for career success.

“Today’s software engineer professionals need more than academic credentials; they need to be able to solve real-world problems,” said Dennis Bonilla, executive dean of the College of Information Systems and Technology at University of Phoenix. “By developing coursework with input from employers, we can integrate workplace scenarios into the learning experience and foster practical application of skills.”

Read the full research report, Building and Sustaining Software Development Talent, and join the conversation about talent strategies, at www.tecna.org. For more information on industry talent development solutions, contact Jeff Greipp, Apollo Education Group Vice President, at jeff.greipp@apollo.edu.


TECNA serves its members and the industry through its strong peer-to-peer network and its regional initiatives to raise the visibility and viability of the technology industry. TECNA represents more than 50 IT and Technology trade organizations who, in turn, represent more than 22,000 technology-related companies in North America.


University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help working adults move efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive learning can help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. As a subsidiary of Apollo Education Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: APOL), University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit www.phoenix.edu.

About Apollo Education Group, Inc.

Apollo Education Group, Inc. is one of the world’s largest private education providers, serving students since 1973. Through its subsidiaries, Apollo Education Group offers undergraduate, graduate, professional development and other nondegree educational programs and services, online and on-campus principally to working learners. Its educational programs and services are offered throughout the United States and in Europe, Australia, Latin America, Africa and Asia, as well as online throughout the world.

For more information about Apollo Education Group, Inc. and its subsidiaries, call (800) 990-APOL or visit the Company’s website at www.apollo.edu.

1 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Software Developers. Published January 8, 2014 at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm. Note that these statistics are for software developers only. Job growth for web developers is projected to be 20% over the same period. The survey described in this document captured employer perceptions of the talent shortage among software developers, web developers, and mobile developers.