Skills crisis version 2.0

Unlike previous shortages based on technical abilities, the current shortage will be in IT occupations focused on business skills. experts say.

“The other issue is complexity,” said Dave Nikolejsin, CIO of the province of B.C. in an interview after his keynote delivered at CIPS Informatics 2006. “We need people with 15 to 20 years experience who truly understand business and IT, and we don’t have anybody in the pipeline.”

Nikolejsin is further concerned because the industry’s best and brightest are being lured to “more creative” Web and gaming sides of the IT business, while spurning jobs in the big business and government sectors.

Bruce Diemert, director of recruiting firm Robert Half International’s operations in Vancouver, confirmed there is need for IT people with soft skills in specifically in communicating, writing and speaking. “There is no shortage of technical skills. You can source this from anywhere in the world,” But what CIOs are really looking for “how well you work in at team” and anyone who can “bridge the gap between business and technology,” he says.

Paul Swinwood, president of the Software Human Resource Council, says the current industry “unemployment rate” is only 1.8 per cent and he is seeing particularly strong demand for IT professionals with experience in the oil and natural resources industries.

While the total IT industry looks like it is getting smaller, it is very close to getting back to its peak of 600,000 IT workers recorded in 2000 and 2001, he says.

John Boufford, vice-president of CIPS, says many senior IT people with business backgrounds are retiring or leaving at a time when the industry really needs them.

As issues such as compliance and governance come to the fore, it’s IT professionals with business experience that will command a premium, he adds.

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