The low number of young people entering the field of information technology is cause for alarm, according to a leading digital technology futurist.
US-based futurist Dr Thomas Frey told News Limited that by 2020, half of most computer programming jobs will go unfilled due to skills shortages. There’s billions to be made in figuring out how to keep the basic digital structures of society functioning, he said, and not addressing the skills crisis will come at an unprecedented expense.
One HR team tackling the issue head-on is the Australian and New Zealand branch of business management software developer SAP. Director of HR, Lisa Christy, told HC that the IT sector is certainly experiencing an acute skills shortage, and that strategically keeping unsuccessful candidates on side has been useful in ensuring a talent pipeline. “We have a strategic sourcing strategy, where we build a pipeline of candidates. We build a long-term relationship with the candidate, so whether they’re ready now or not we continue to follow up with them for down the track,” Christy said.
SAP has also taken steps to play a grassroots role in getting talent young people into the IT sector. The organisation has engaged with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) to assist in designing pathways to get more women into the field. So far SAP has sponsored a business information technology degree as well as a Young IT Explorers competition which encourages students to enter their most innovative IT ideas. What’s more, the organisation is also considering different ways to educate children and teenagers in school about the opportunities available in IT.