Human Resources

Kathryn Cave (Global) - IT Skills Part 4 - The Future

To accompany our special report on ‘The Global IT Skills Landscape, Summer 2011' IDG Connect has created a four-part series on IT skills, which has been published over the last four weeks. The final part addresses the future of the IT job market.

When I was eleven in the early 90s, I remember trying to explain the concept of the ‘mouse' to my then 73 year old grandmother. She had lived through two world wars, witnessed first hand the most incredible social advances of the twentieth century, but the notion of a virtual cursor on a screen was totally beyond her. Today perfectly ordinary septuagenarians are internet dating, and the term silver surfing has entered the English dictionary.

The fact is over the last two decades IT has changed so quickly that is now hard to imagine a world without complete mobility, instant communication and a truly global workforce. But the future of this industry; both its safety and its continued development is dependent on the talent it attracts. Over the course of this four-part series I have looked at the IT skills landscape based on perceptions of the people within. In this fourth and final part, I am going to look at the rapidly expanding market.

When we asked the question ‘What do you think are the reasons for IT employment problems in your area? - The market is expanding too quickly for IT skills to keep up' there was a mixed global response. 61% of Asians believed this to be the case, but only 40% of North Americans. These statistics seem to reflect two things: firstly the exponential market growth in continents such as Asia, and secondly the inability for training organisations to keep pace with rapid developments.

Not surprisingly, there appears to be a natural split between developed and developing countries. When we asked the question ‘What do you think are the reasons for IT employment problems in your area? - The best IT talent moves abroad' there was a resounding agreement outside of North America and Europe. This seemed to be a particular concern in Africa (where 69% agreed), South America (where 63% agreed) and Asia (where 59% agreed). However, from the comments we received, this was also a perceived issue, amongst some people in the United States. As one IT manager put it "Entry level jobs are eliminated either by being shipped overseas or due to budget shortfalls" while another IT executive stated "Foreign visa workers are taking American jobs".

However we define talent there will always be a hierarchy, and the best people will always be creamed off by the most lucrative markets and successful companies. One applications development manager in Canada explained, "[It is] hard to compete with Microsoft for talent"; while another US business manager described "Too much competition from skilled workers from... companies like Google, Facebook". But even with these factors at play, it still seems ludicrous that with a global workforce and ever expanding industry, there are not enough skills to go around. This is especially true with the stock market at an all time low and numerous scare stories about the impending double dip recession.

Whatever the cause, this is great news for IT workers. A recent study by a cluster of workforce boards in the Silicon Valley region of the United States has shown that while the US as a whole may be losing jobs, ICT companies in Silicon Valley are expected to increase tech vacancies by 15% over the next two years. For employees prepared to learn the necessary skills the opportunities are huge. In fact, an August survey conducted by recruitment firm Hudson showed that in Australia and New Zealand not only is it difficult to fill ICT jobs, but once jobs have been filled 44% of new hires were rated "not good" by their employers. The current climate is a veritable gold rush for people prepared to go that extra mile.

Over this short series of articles I have looked at how future talent will need to straddle the difficult balance between IT and business acumen; soft skills and technical abilities in order to become successful. From the employers point of view this will probably require a combination of tangible incentives and good training. From the workers point of view, this situation offers some incredible openings in an otherwise tough job market.

Missed the previous parts?

IT skills, part 1 - ‘talentism'
IT skills, part 2 - training
IT skills, part 3 - generation Y

Tell us what you think: either pop your comment below, or if you prefer, drop me an email at Kathryn_cave@idg.com Kathryn Cave is Editor of IDG Connect International.



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