Time for CIOs to take responsibility for IT skills shortage
How many times have we heard that UK IT departments are suffering the ill-effects of a skills gap?
Avid readers of CIO UK online will probably already have read our news story Offshoring to blame for IT skills gap, in which we quoted an Ernst & Young report which blamed our current and future skills gap on the huge appetite IT had for outsourcing in the 90s and the way it throttled off local candidates.
Ernst and Young’s data on the contemporary shrinkage in UK university graduates in core feeder subjects for IT (maths, physics and computer engineering) does indeed make shocking reading, falling from 32,000 such graduates in 1998 to 8,000 in the same subjects by 2000.
But the problem of not being able to find the people you need to fill vacant roles is, in truth, far more complex than blaming industry and educational trends.
Those involved at the sharp end of IT recruitment as CIOs and senior IT managers differ in their perception of what the shortage is actually of and how it can be made up. On one side are the Raspberry Pi-men (and Pi-women, though there are far too few of those) who blame a general lack of exposure to technology in early education. By seeking to recreate the BBC Micro effect of an earlier era, they hope to inspire a generation of young programmer/technologists. They believe that putting a Pi on every desk is a way of sparking a lifelong interest in programming and technology. And we’re all for that.
Another group are not so concerned about the clearly defined IT development roles of the future, believing that there is always a plentiful supply of programmers with the necessary skills. If there is a shortage, they say, it is quickly filled by those adding to their skill set to make themselves more employable.
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