Turbulence in ICT skills market

Friday, 27 February 2009, 08:41
Current movement within the international ICT skills exchange, recruitment and placement space has presented companies that are well structured with a very clear opportunity to acquire valuable technical skills sets, writes Robert Sussman, CEO of Integr8 IT.
One of the main reasons for this is because the worldwide economic downturn continues to place a substantial amount of pressure on companies – especially large enterprises – to lower costs and protect resources.

The fact is that businesses are now compelled to take a long-term view of the human resource and its knowledge capital. Part of this approach involves making a concerted effort to retain skills and ensure that development takes place to compete effectively and leverage off change and innovation.

One printed article, published in January 2009, was based on general advice to companies to hold onto the skills resources that they have because there is a feeling that lost skills will be difficult to replace. It follows information from Gartner which states that companies should give serious thought to what skills to hold on to and what should be recruited.

In September 2008 media reports referred to an ICT skills survey that showed that authorities had underestimated, by almost half, how many skills are needed in South Africa.

According to the results of the survey every one of the companies that had been approached had confirmed that ICT skills shortage was having an impact on their business.

The South African ICT industry is now being impacted on the one hand by companies that are cautious, cutting costs and not recruiting, and on the other by a growing need for ICT skills and a market that is shifting as a result of growing socio-economic pressure.

Due to cost constraints, consolidation and downsizing – which translates into higher overheads – larger, more established operators are not in a strong position to recruit. In effect there are a now a number of skilled ICT professionals that find themselves in the unusual position of being in the job market.

This means that the well positioned and correctly structured company can take advantage of the situation and take on board specialized technical and business development skills sets – those that they may not have had access to in previous times.

Technical skill sets are in demand. It makes sense, especially if one considers the great need for technology to be the differentiator in the market place today.

Driving forces such as managed ICT services, virtualisation, software as a service, mobile and wireless as well as cloud computing, mean that organisations have little choice but to demonstrate a level of technical capability to operate. In fact this aspect of the business must be embraced.

Skills that cover the most up to date product and knowledge of vendors are sought after.

Based on information from Gartner and media focus on employment, skills and economic climate, it is clear that businesses the world over are going to have to become quite innovative, resilient and headstrong to compete.