Networking skills shortage could hit South Africa

With the UK predicting that it will be facing a shortage of up to 500,000 professionals with top-end networking skills within the next three years, South Africa (SA) can brace itself for some serious head-hunting from UK companies – a situation that could exacerbate a local shortage.

This is according to Org Geldenhuys, a director of Pretoria-based IT recruitment company, Abacus Recruitment. Geldenhuys says that while SA does not face such severe shortage of top-end networking specialist, “there is nonetheless still a shortage.

The UK has always been a popular work destination for SA IT workers and if UK companies desperately need networking skills they are liable to offer alluring pay packets to potential employees. This might just serve to lure skills from our IT sector.”

The shortage of top-end networking skills in the UK is said to be due to an increasing adoption of network technologies and growth in the e-business.

This, combined with a dearth of training programmes, could create a European shortage of up to 500,000 IT professionals by 2008.

According to UK-based Web site,, a joint report by Cisco Systems and IDC claims the UK is currently facing a shortage of over 19,000 IT professionals with skills in advanced networking.

Geldenhuys says that the report states that this figure is expected to soar to 40,000 over the next three years.

By this time, says, no country in Europe will be ‘well positioned’ to meet the demands of advance network technologies, as the dire need for expertise will outstrip supply by 20 percent in Eastern European nations.

It is believed that the skills shortage – unless seriously and timeously addressed – will get worse. Indeed, 80 percent of businesses surveyed admitted that the importance of their network could increase in the foreseeable future.

“We are facing a similar scenario in this country,” says Geldenhuys.

“Since the dotcom crash at the turn of the century many companies have been holding back on substantial IT spending, including upgrading networks. Many networks out there have reached the end of the road.

“The companies have squeezed just about everything they can out of them – and many are now realising it is time to invest in networking technology.

“If the UK and Europe as a whole faces a larger problem and looks further afield for more skills, we could be facing a brain drain at a time when we can ill afford it,” he concludes.

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