Today's Higher Education IT Workforce


The professionals making up the current higher education IT workforce have been asked to adjust to a culture of increased IT consumerization, more sourcing options, broader interest in IT’s transformative potential, and decreased resources. Disruptions that include the bring-your-own-everything era, cloud computing, new management practices, e-learning, and sustained budget cuts have potentially long-term impacts on the IT workforce.

This ECAR research incorporates results from a comprehensive survey on more than 2,000 IT professionals as well as focus groups to provide a description of the current state of today’s IT workforce, how it has changed in the past three years, and what changes may need to be implemented to retain and strengthen IT staff. 

In this report are the demographic characteristics of the IT workforce; the factors that underlie salary differences for CIOs, managers, and staff; the state of hiring; the skills needed in today’s IT workforce; the factors that affect retention of IT professionals in higher education; the factors that lead professionals to leave higher education; and the role of human resources in IT hiring and retention.

Key Findings

  • Soft skills are rated by chief information officers (CIOs), managers, and staff alike as being the most important skills for success. Technical proficiency is more important for staff than for managers and CIOs, but still not as important as the ability to communicate effectively.
  • The perception of the economic climate in higher education institutions is slowly improving. However, most respondents still do not believe that their particular institution’s economic climate will improve in the near future.
  • Overall staffing levels are holding steady or increasing slightly. However, nearly one-fifth (18%) of IT professionals are at high risk for leaving their current positions.
  • Benefits and quality of life are the top factors keeping IT professionals at their institution. These factors were rated more highly than compensation.
  • Non-managerial staff are not engaging in (nor are they being encouraged to engage in) the activities they deem most important for their professional growth and development. Only about half are attending higher education IT conferences or taking the technical training classes they need.

Related EDUCAUSE Resources