Can't Get No Satisfaction?

By Sara Driscoll  |  Print this article Print


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Sara Driscoll wonders, if IT workers are so happy, why do we have a looming skills crisis.

"Techies love their work", the headlines screamed last week. Apparently it's true. According to a report out yesterday from staffing and resource firm Hudson, 80 percent of "techies" are happy with their jobs—the highest it has been for two years.

This is great news for everyone in our sector. Except that it may be a case of too little, too late. Positive headlines and an increased awareness of technology are always fantastic news, but the crisis that faces our sector has already begun, and raving about how great it is to work in the IT industry now is like to using a spoonful of water to put out an inferno.

The skills shortage facing the technology sector is global. An IDC study commissioned by Cisco Systems has reported that the networking sector in Asia Pacific faces a skill shortfall of almost 400,000 professionals. It's a similar picture here and across Europe. And the problem is spreading. When I spoke with a Cisco executive a few weeks ago, he admitted to me that even if the company releases a new product every single day, it is irrelevant if there is no one able to implement or deploy the technology.

So if "techies" are so happy in their jobs, as the Hudson report claims, why are recruitment and staffing levels so low?

The first reason may be the very terminology we use to describe people working in the sector: "techies". That title connotes people who are somewhat socially inept, and who wear anoraks and sandals with socks. And while once in the sector you realize this is far from the truth, to anyone outside this is their perception.

The other factor is the lingering hangover from the dot-com fallout. Where working for an Internet or technology company was once deemed cool and exciting, now it's viewed as risky and unstable. Parents are urging their children not take up technology courses in schools, but rather encouraging them to aim for more general business courses or for skills in more traditional industries.

Here is the crucial point: The skills crisis needs to be attacked on two fronts. First, we need to make IT cool again, to encourage students and children to want to choose technology as an option, and, second, we need to give parents more confidence in the sector and promote technology to them as being the place to work.

At least if we make a start on encouraging the future generations of the benefits of working in technology, it may help to prevent us from continuing to face this same crisis in the years to come.

Sara Driscoll began her journalism career at 16 years old on her local newspaper, The Watford Observer. Working part time, she covered a range of beats. Leaving to complete her Journalism Degree at Bournemouth University, UK, Sara then went on to graduate and work for Emap. She began as a reporter on APR, Emap's construction title, being promoted to senior reporter with a year.Sara then joined VNU Business Publications as Deputy News Editor on CRN, the weekly trade title for channel players. She covered industry/business news from vendors, distributors and resellers, product announcements, partner announcements as well as market and trend analysis, research and in depth articles to predict up and coming trends in the sector. She was promoted within a year to News Editor, a year later to Deputy Editor and the following year became Editor. Sara remained editor of CRN for three years, launching the magazine on new platforms including CRN TV and eBooks, as well as several magazine and web site redesigns. She was called on for expert industry comment from various publications including appearing on live BBC news programs. Sara joined Ziff Davis Enterprise as Editor of eWeek Channel Insider. She runs the title in all formats – online up to the minute news, newsletters, emails alerts and events. She also manages the brand of Channel Insider in all formats - events, shows, awards, panel debates and roundtables.Sara can be reached at:sara.driscoll@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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