Skilled IT staff shortage hits productivity: IDC

High staff turnover rates across the industry and the shortage of IT labour are hindering the uptake of the latest technology in many organisations, according to an IDC report.

The recent IDC 'IT Staffing Dynamics and Challenges in Australia' report, based on a survey of 400 Australian organisations, reveals staff turnover within IT departments is higher than company-wide attrition rates.

Effects of IT staffing problems are having a direct impact on productivity, with delays in application implementation occurring at a high rate (75 per cent).

Joel Martin, research manager for IDC, said: "For small to medium-sized businesses to stay competitive with large enterprises, internationals and Internet service providers, and basically for them to grow and to change their business models to meet the needs of the market, requires them to have skilled workers working for them."Martin sees not a 'brain drain' between countries occurring, but rather a 'drain' between the levels of business, which is making it harder for small to medium business to evolve their business model.

"People are learning the skills at a small business level, for example taking care of an NT server, and then going on to a medium-sized company and getting a Cisco certification, and then being hired away by a large enterprise or Internet service provider," Martin said.

To retain staff, Martin said ongoing training is vital. In Australia, currently only 4 per cent of IT staffing costs is allocated to staff training.

"You have to continue to train these people, give them access to the latest technology so they can grow their skills; at the same time you also need to keep them engaged so they don't take this training elsewhere," Martin said.

"IT people like to build things, like to be creative, they are very energetic people and want to be doing new things."According to IDC's report, industries most affected by the IT labour shortage are the distribution, manufacturing, telecommunications and utilities industries.

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