Search more, sweat less over skills 'crisis'

It's difficult to determine just how short of skilled workers the local IT industry really is.

On the one hand we have end users, governments and vendors complaining about how hard it is to recruit appropriate personnel for their rejuvenated IT investments, and on the other hand tales of layoffs, outsourcing, and offshoring are indicative of an industry without a dime to spend on IT skills in the first place.

What's the story within your organization?

If it's the former and there really is a local ICT skills shortage, ask yourself how proactive your organization has been recruiting, and nurturing, future employees.

Last week the federal government released a report titled Building Australian ICT Skills. One of the key recommendations to help foster new entrants into IT is to "review and enhance" the teaching of ICT in schools.

A "get 'em while they're young" approach to human resources, if you like.

Teaching practices aside, the idea of scouting for young talent could go a long way to preventing the most dire ICT skills shortage Australia has ever seen.

As the report rightly alludes, many young people may be shying away from a career in IT because it's not as attractive as medicine or merchant banking - all the more reason for the entire industry, not just the government, to better market the virtues of a tech career.

Furthermore, encouraging school leavers and higher-education students to participate in work experience programs should, at the very least, open the gates to a steady stream of more suitable prospects.

I know at least two very talented software developers who left full-time study to pursue their own contract programming interests.

Not to mention the significant number of techies lured overseas by large, fleet-footed, Internet companies.

Yes, appropriately skilled people are hard to find, but not looking for them doesn't solve the problem, long-term. Be more proactive in luring and accepting new talent and perhaps the skills 'crisis' might not seem that bad after all.

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