Yet another study has come out saying Canadian companies are having trouble finding and keeping good IT people. This time the information comes from a human resources firm which surveyed 232 Canadian organizations.
This isn’t the first survey to support the theory that there’s a shortage of good IT workers. Yet at the same time there seems to be no shortage of examples of IT veterans languishing for months looking for a new employer.
So what’s the real story? Is there a shortfall of good IT workers? Or have outsourcing, offshoring and consolidation shrunk the IT market so much that there are more than enough people to fill the remaining available jobs?
Part of the problem may be that what employers are looking for in IT workers today isn’t the same as what they looked for in IT workers, say 10 or 15 years ago. In the past, an employer was happy if its IT staff was able to keep the firm’s computers and servers running most of the time. Today that’s clearly no longer good enough. Employers are looking primarily for certain skillsets, particularly the latest certifications, people skills and some business acumen. If veteran IT workers haven’t kept their certifications up to date, or have trouble fitting into a company’s business culture, there’s a decent chance they’ll find themselves in the unemployment line.
The best way for an IT employee to grab a plum position is to add business skills. At the Canadian Information Processing Society’s (CIPS) Informatics conference last month, attendees were told there will be a shortage of IT workers with business skills, such as business analysts. This makes sense, since positions that require workers to tie business needs and processes to IT can’t be outsourced or offshored as easily as jobs involving more mundane technical chores.
Perhaps the answer to the question of whether there’s an IT skills shortage is a qualified yes. There’s demand for employees with up-to-date technical skills and business knowledge. For those without the business background and willingness to add to their existing IT knowledge the answer is less positive.
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