Twin Cities has more software developers than ever; demand might still outpace supply – Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal – The Business Journals

The number of software developer jobs in the Twin Cities increased by more than a quarter between 2019 and 2021, one of the biggest jumps in the nation among large metro areas.
Software developers and software quality-assurance testers now number more than 34,000 in the 35-county Twin Cities metro area. That’s up from 27,000 in 2019. However, even with that gain, demand for tech jobs in Minnesota is still expected to outpace the pool of workers qualified for high-tech positions. That’s partly the result of changing demographics and barriers companies have that prevent them from accessing the full workforce, according to the state’s technology trade group.
“It’s a classic supply/demand imbalance,” said Jeff Tollefson, president and CEO of the Minnesota Technology Association. “We have far more employer demand for digitally savvy, employment-ready talent than supply.”
Baby boomers reaching prime retirement age combined with a rapidly diversifying workforce means the tight labor market that arose during the pandemic era won’t go away anytime soon. Between 2010 and 2021, the share of white Minnesota workers employed in the broad computer systems design category, which includes software developers, declined 3%.
That should be a wake up call for the state’s employers, Tollefson said. He said companies should examine the barriers in their hiring processes that, intentionally or otherwise, limit the number of qualified workers they can hire from nonwhite talent pools.
One example of a barrier in this case would be the bachelor’s degree that 90% of software jobs require, Tollefson said, adding that companies could look to coding bootcamps for sources of nontraditional talent outside the college-educated.
Just under four out of every 10 white Minnesotans has a bachelor’s degree, almost twice the rate for the Black or Hispanic population, according to the 2020 American Community Survey.
Meanwhile, only about one-quarter of Minnesotan high schools offer computer science classes, according to Code.org, a national organization that advocates for improved computer science education. That’s dead last in the country, which could spell trouble for Minnesota’s tech and innovation community.
“If students aren’t getting exposed to computer science careers in high school, they’re less likely to pursue it in college, and if companies continue to require bachelor’s degrees, we’re going to have a shortage,” Tollefson said.
By 2030, the state is projected to add almost 8,000 software developer and software tester jobs, the fourth-largest increase among all job categories, according to a report from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
However, Minnesota’s total tech job increase is projected to be the third-slowest in the country, according to CompTIA, a national trade association for the information technology sector.
As for why the Twin Cities metro saw one of the highest gains recently among metros with populations greater than a million people, Tollefson said it could be related to the number of large corporations headquartered here, all of which have tech needs, regardless of the products they sell.
“All businesses are tech businesses, even if they don’t produce tech,” Tollefson said. “Technology doesn’t happen without people. We don’t foresee that subsiding.”
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