U.S. consultant and author Tom DeMarco has warned of major shortages to come in skilled IT graduates.
DeMarco, a key speaker at Software Education's Development Conference in Wellington last month, warned that IT is no longer a hot area for young graduates, more of whom are setting their sights on older professions such as law and accountancy.
The drought will be compounded by the final exhaustion of the "baby boom" as those born in the 1950s and now mostly in senior positions, reach retirement age. Excess of demand over supply in a range of job categories could reach or exceed the worst of the past.
DeMarco is not alone in his pessimism. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates recently toured top U.S. universities, trying to get more students to study computer science.
And according to recruiter Robert Walters, which has released the findings of an annual job market survey, demand was high in the last six months of last year.
Ben Pearson, of Wellington agency TMP/Hudson, says DeMarco is "quite correct" to see long-term problems. Shortages may, however, be mitigated for a while by an increasing respect for senior candidates with management experience who make a career shift into IT.
"I see more openness to those experienced workers, who will be seen as having valuable skills and being more stable, without a tendency to 'job-hop'."