IT skills shortage ‘will last decades’

by 10 Jul 2007

As demand for IT professionals continues to outstrip supply, a technology expert has warned that Australia will be faced with the problem for the foreseeable future.

According to Damien Tampling, Deloitte technology media and communications industry group leader, the IT skills shortage is hitting the fastest growing companies hard, and will continue for decades.

Tampling was referring to a survey of 500 chief executives which exposed the depth of the problem.

“Technology companies, which rely heavily on top talent to drive innovation, will suffer especially from this global problem,” Tampling said. “Over half of the companies surveyed said they plan to expand their workforce by more than 25 per cent, with the vast majority wanting to grow organically. However, all agree the biggest challenge to companies is ‘finding, hiring and retaining qualified employees’. CEOs have made talent their top personal challenge to develop the next generation of leaders, however a large number express concern about the focus of national education systems.”

The ongoing shortage means employers and HR practitioners must focus on retention. “The dwindling IT labour supply has many implications, the most important one being that employers will need to focus on retention of valuable people,” said John McVicker, managing director at IT recruitment firm Best International Group.

He agreed with Tampling’s assessment that the crisis will continue. “The Australian economy will continue its current level of growth for a number of years and demand for skilled IT professionals will remain high,” he said. “Unless jobs can be moved offshore, or domestic workforce participation and migration increase, it is likely that the skills shortage will continue to worsen.”

With IT skills shortages being felt across the globe, Australian companies looking overseas may face issues. Deloitte’s study found that 45 per cent of US CEOs said they would look offshore for talent and close to half of the CEOs polled said they see it as critical to source talent overseas. The study also found that 67 per cent of respondents considered high-quality employees as the biggest contributors to growth.


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