Skills shortage a joke?

By Jason W. Eckert

Nestor E. Arellano brings up some good information in his article “Skills shortage? You must be joking,” at While many still argue that there is an IT skills shortage (for example, at the recent Tech Week convention in Toronto), Nestor points out that the reader response to one of his articles arguing that same issue has been entirely different. Many of Nestor’s readers argue that there is little evidence of an IT skills shortage in Canada and blame the perceived skills shortage on companies that have poor hiring practices or set hiring standards that are too high. In addition, two talent specialists agreed with the reader’s responses.

From my perspective (in the Kitchener-Waterloo area of Ontario), there is definitely a great deal more IT hiring than before, and in a wide range of IT jobs that are well suited to the students that graduate from my college. However, at the same time, companies are definitely getting leaner and meaner with regards to IT:

  • Business and communication skills are now a must-have for all IT people
  • Outsourcing is becoming more rampant (last week’s InformationWeek magazine even had an article listing the successes of one company’s outsourcing to China)
  • Cloud computing and SaaS eliminate many current IT job roles in place of fewer centralized development roles

Overall, I think that the IT industry is growing, but it is also changing dramatically. Perhaps this change is the real reason that many of Nestor’s readers don’t see the skills gap. Perhaps the IT skills gap is mainly caused by the new skills that companies require in the future. Or perhaps the skills gap is exaggerated by media and organizations for publicity (think Al Gore).

I think that there is a bit of all three.

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