IT Workers Are Not Expendable

By Pedro Pereira  |  Posted 2006-03-02 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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IT companies need to invest more in skills development for their employees or they end up sabotaging their efforts to adapt to new market pressures.

IT workers are not a happy a lot. Sixty percent want new jobs and, of those, 80 percent would rather work for a different employer.

Workers feel underappreciated and overworked, and they bemoan the lack of adequate training to do their jobs effectively and prepare for the future.

Meanwhile, employers worry that a significant amount of practical and institutional knowledge is about to walk out the door as the number of workers over 50 years old increases and they start to retire.

One third of the U.S. workforce will be more than 50 years old by 2010. According to CompTIA, employers fret they will be left with a vacuum of hard-to-replace skills.

Erosion of skills hurts everyone in the IT chain, from vendors and manufacturers to channel companies to, ultimately, the buyers. CompTIA itself in the past year has pointed out areas in which a lack of skills hinders the adoption of technology and hurts efforts to professionalize the channel.

Unfortunately, many employers seem unable or unwilling to address these issues. Even though they worry about losing skills as the over-50 crowd retires, employers have failed to sufficiently invest in skills development for their workers of all ages.

This is why so many IT workers want new jobs, according to a CompTIA survey. Employers refuse to pay for training, forcing workers to take classes during off hours at their own expense.

Naturally, seeing the lack of interest by their employers, the workers choose classes based on what is more likely to land them a better job as opposed to perhaps focusing more on skills for their current occupations.

So you see the disconnect, right?

So does CompTIA, and the Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based trade group wants to do something about it. The association is partnering with the AARP to devise strategies to get employers to understand, plan for and create workplaces that meaningfully engage over-50 workers for their skills and mentoring potential.

It's a tall order for sure.

Too often companies act like workers are expendable. After lavishing workers with all manner of perks during the Internet boom, many companies did a complete turnaround following the dot-com bust, cutting benefits, demanding longer hours and skipping wage increases.

Layoffs have become so commonplace that I always seem to have a friend or two looking for work. Some seem to get a vacation only with their next layoff.

In many cases the layoffs are unnecessary. Someone's boss gets passed over for a promotion and, the next thing you know, the boss falls out of favor, is invited to leave and his reports have to find a new place to work. Meanwhile, want ads are drafted for replacements

Petty, shortsighted management action leads to attrition of skills and erosion of morale, ultimately costing more than can be accounted for in the books.

So it isn't surprising that so many IT workers, even if they are not at imminent risk of getting laid off, would rather be employed elsewhere.

What causes so much shortsightedness? Aside from bad management, pure and simple, other factors are at play, and a new survey conducted by IBM offers some hints. According to the poll, 65 percent of 765 CEOs surveyed said pressures from new competitors, emerging markets and new business models are forcing them to be on the constant lookout for ways to change. And even though the poll was not exclusive to IT companies, it is instructive nevertheless.

It raises the question of whether companies are placing so much emphasis on the need to change that they neglect employee retention.

But employers have to realize the skills they need to adapt to new market pressures will not materialize from the ether. They must invest in skills development and employee retention, otherwise they are sabotaging their own efforts.

Sixty percent of workers wanting new jobs is nothing short of a crisis. IT employers must get serious about retention if they want a productive industry and a healthy channel.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
























 
 
 
 
 
 

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