Survey of 1,700-plus executives offers national, regional views on business conditions, investment plans, policy concerns
DOWNERS GROVE, Ill., Nov. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Technology companies plan to hire new staff over the next 12 months, but are concerned about a persistent shortage of tech talent, according to the second annual National Survey of Technology, Policy and Strategic Issues released today by the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA).
The survey by TECNA, a non-profit trade association of regional technology organizations which serves as a leading voice in growing the North American technology economy, reveals that nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of the 1,700-plus C-level executives surveyed say they intend to hire new staff over the next 12 months. Small companies (74 percent) and medium firms (72 percent) are the most optimistic on hiring.
At the same time, 69 percent of executives perceive a shortage in the quantity and quality of tech talent available to them. One-quarter say the shortage is "significant."
"Companies are feeling better about business conditions, but the talent shortage issue has the potential to sidetrack growth," said Steven G. Zylstra, TECNA chairman and president and chief executive officer of the Arizona Technology Council.
The talent shortage perception is present across all regions of the country. In the Midwest and West, 72 percent of respondents say there's a shortage. The Northeast (67 percent) and South (65 percent) were slightly lower.
"The survey substantiates our efforts to champion policies such as STEM education, tax and regulatory reform and access to capital for innovators and start-ups," Zylstra said. "From Capitol Hill to state capitals, and from legislative committee rooms to city halls, TECNA members continue to serve as the voice calling for a technology-based, pro-growth, business-focused agenda."
The second annual TECNA survey provides current and future technology trends locally, regionally and nationally. The survey was conducted in partnership with CompTIA, the non-profit association for the IT industry.
Other Key National Findings
- Government should act on dollars-and-cents issues and STEM education: Access to capital is the top area where government policy action should focus, according to 46 percent of executives. Two other monetary issues appear in the top five: taxation and/regulatory reform (40 percent) and access to state and local funding for innovation and startups (37 percent). Support for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education at the K-12 and higher education levels is cited as a policy priority by 41 percent of respondents.
- Lukewarm assessment of federal government representation: Asked how well the federal government is representing the interests of the tech sector, 45 percent of executives said poorly or very poorly. Another 41 percent said "just okay." The comparable numbers for state government are 38 percent, just okay; and 25 percent, poor or very poorly.
- Business sentiment is on the upswing: The survey reveals improving sentiment about overall business conditions, with the biggest jump occurring in feelings about the overall economy. It's at 56.4 on a 100-point scale, compared to 46.3 a year ago; and with expectations of more improvement – albeit modest – over the next six months
- Many businesses plan to increase investments: In addition to hiring plans, 59 percent of executives say they'll invest in new products or business lines over the next six months, with small (65 percent) and medium companies (62 percent) leading the way. About half of all companies expect to boost expenditures on marketing and advertising and on technology.
- Concerns about the economy are the biggest threat: A general lack of confidence or economic paralysis is the biggest threat to business activity, according to 44 percent of executives. Government regulation is next at 42 percent. Concerns about lower margins or downward pressure on pricing took a big jump – from 22 percent in the 2012 survey to 38 percent this year, placing it third on the list of concerns. Medium (51 percent) and large companies (50 percent) are most concerned about margin and price issues.
"Efforts to increase tech sector representation with the federal government, in particular for small and medium sized businesses, are central to TechVoice, our advocacy partnership between TECNA and CompTIA," said Bob Moore, CAE, TECNA executive director. "Tax and regulatory barriers to tech entrepreneurs, advancing a skilled and career-ready 21st century workforce, and Internet governance are the major policy topics currently being addressed throughout TechVoice advocacy efforts."
- Business sentiment is consistent across all four regions, with the South leading the way (65.5), followed by the Midwest (64.3), West (64.0) and Northeast (61.4).
- Midwest executives are most bullish on increasing staffing levels in both technical (61 percent) and non-technical positions (60 percent). The Northeast, at 62 percent, has the most aggressive plans for investments in new technology or business lines. The West leads the way in planned investments in marketing and advertising (54 percent) and technology (53 percent).
- Asked how state and regional governments are representing the interests of the tech sector, a net 45 percent of West executives said well. The South came in at 40 percent, the Midwest at 31 percent and the Northeast, 26 percent.
About the Survey
Data for this study was collected via a September 2013 online survey of 1,763 senior (C-level) IT, technology and business executives belonging to one of the regional technology associations affiliated with TECNA. The complete survey is available at tecna.org.
The Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) represents almost 50 IT and technology trade organizations that, in turn, represent more than 16,000 technology-related companies in North America. 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.
CompTIA is the voice of the world's information technology (IT) industry. Its members are the companies at the forefront of innovation; and the professionals responsible for maximizing the benefits organizations receive from their investments in technology. CompTIA is dedicated to advancing industry growth through its educational programs, market research, networking events, professional certifications and public advocacy.
TechVoice is a partnership of CompTIA, TECNA and participating regional technology associations. Collectively, we represent thousands of technology companies across the country employing millions of workers. We are dedicated to empowering and mobilizing the grassroots tech community to impact legislative and regulatory issues important to growth, innovation and job creation.
SOURCE Technology Councils of North America (TECNA)