Report by Trilogy Education points to high price for talent drain. 

The need for quality software engineers has plagued US tech companies for some time. The issue has even become highly politicized due to the recent attempts at banning travel by individuals from certain regions, regardless of their legal immigration or visa status.

The topic has even taken a “roundtable discussion” turn: why are American companies hiring their top-notch talent from outside the US? Is it to save a buck on the wages, or is it because US colleges aren’t churning out qualified individuals? And do businesses even need to care now that the web has opened up doors to freelancers from all around the globe who can write some software without having to be hired on?

Image courtesy of GeekWire

Image courtesy of GeekWire

The answer is all of the above, at least according to various sources. Critics cite the lower wages that companies can get by with paying a foreign software expert on a work visa, while supporters argue that the US simply isn’t graduating enough students in the field. Coupled with the astronomical cost of achieving a degree in computer science, today’s graduates can’t afford to take the entry-level job that most tech companies start out with.

A new report has unearthed just what it’s costing businesses to not have this kind of in-house talent. With more than 1.3 million unfilled software jobs in the US, the average cost per business – taking into account how the small businesses are offsetting the multi-million dollar corporations – is $14,000 per position that goes unfilled for three months. According to Trilogy Education, that works out to a typical cost of $25,000 for most businesses.

Interestingly, geographic location played a part in the type of software job that was needed, but Indeed.com found that “Java” is required in about 50% of the job listings that are as of yet unfilled. Java certainly isn’t a new programming language, so why are there not enough applicants to fill these positions?

One possibility is the low perception of STEM education in the US, starting all the way back in elementary school. The US has historically had less of a focus on maths and sciences, which first began to change following the USSR’s launch of Sputnik. The space race, or rather the US’s second-place position in it, bolstered a STEM focus initially, but the country has been playing catch-up ever since. Now, there’s a long overdue, concerted effort to encourage females and minorities to enter STEM fields, but with the traditionally horrible perception of how females are treated in the tech industry, it’s not hard to see why the US is lagging in terms of supporting students all the way from preschool to Silicon Valley.