The market for IT professionals keeps getting tighter as the number of workers with needed skills falls short of demand, according to the “IT Staffing Growth Assessment” report recently released by Staffing Industry Analysts. It noted an acceleration in new orders for IT staffing began in early 2018 even as the US unemployment rate for computer and mathematical occupations fell to 2.1% last year from 2.4% the year before.

“We don’t anticipate the skills mismatch to abate in the near term,” said Brian Wallins, senior research analyst at SIA and author of the report. “Shorter tech cycles are exacerbating the IT skills gap.”

It will likely take a material economic slowdown to bring supply and demand more into balance, Wallins said.

Talent is now so tight big tech firms such as Alphabet and Apple have dropped the four-year degree requirement for IT positions, and companies are hiring individuals with little or no IT backgrounds, according to the report. Staffing buyers are beginning to extend or even waive term limits for contingent IT workers in order to keep as many skilled workers as possible.

The mismatch continues even as the US graduates more computer science majors, more people go through coding boot camps, companies hire H-1B visa holders and the use of automation accelerates.

Some staffing companies are responding by offering new business models to deliver IT talent such as an employer-paid model for “last mile” training. Here, a staffing firm provides training to workers it places. In one example, a firm puts new college graduates through a 12-week training program in IT before assigning them to a client. The grads must repay their training if they don’t complete their assignment, although the firm aims to keep that number to a minimum through a rigorous screening process.

The full report is available online for members of the CWS Council.