Vested interests perpetuate skills shortage myth: recruiter

Vested interests in some IT recruitment agencies are fanning the fires of the so-called skills shortage myth, according a Victorian-based recruitment consultant.

"Recruitment agencies have a vested interest to say that they are finding a rare, skilled person as they are charging a large [finders] fee. They don't want the company to know that what they just found is not rare," said Vincent Teubler, managing director of VTR Consulting.

He said recruitment agencies charge a higher percentage fee for finding IT talent than for a blue-collar worker, and that "made up jobs" to fill prepaid advertising space in newspapers and online was common practice throughout the industry.

"There is no skill set out there that anyone can identify" that is not over-supplied, Teubler said.

Parkside Consulting managing director Felix Borenstein agrees there is no real skill shortage.

"There is always going to be a skill shortage in the bleeding-edge technologies, for some [skill] of incredibly high demand and for companies that don't pay market rates," he said.

Within the IT community, opinions are split on the topic. Justin Magler, technical systems coordinator for the New Hope Group, said he agrees "wholeheartedly" that the skills shortage scenario is a myth.

"There is definitely no job shortage. During my career [as both a contractor and permanent employee], I have never seen a skill shortage," he said.

There may have been a skills crisis in the lead up to Y2K, Magler said, as a lot of companies needed people with "older" skills.

In contrast, NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) CIO Greg Carvouni, said he has found it "very difficult" to get suitable people.

He did concede the so-called skills shortage could depend on budget size and how exciting the role was, but he also said recruitment agencies should take some blame for not putting forward suitable applicants.

"Recently I went through 70 resumes from suppliers and had only six that were vaguely suitable. I would think the fact that recruitment agencies can offer 70 people with only six fitting the bill, would mean there is a skill shortage out there," Carvouni said.

It recently took Carvouni three months to fill a contract Java position. "When I was trying to fill the position, after I did my interview what surprised me was that [the applicant] started theirs. They also asked if they could come in for a day to check out the project. The first two declined after spending a day here."

"If there wasn't such a skill shortage, then contractors wouldn't hop around so much."

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