Australian ICT industry shares NZ’s skills pain

Offshoring no longer source of cut-rate labour, but way to find valuable talent

The ICT industry is the hardest hit by the current talent crisis and skills shortage in the Australian market, the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 CEO survey reveals.

With the baby boomer generation reaching retirement age, newly appointed Deloitte Technology media and telecommunications (TMT) industry group leader Damien Tampling says CEOs cite chronic shortages of talent as one of their greatest concerns.

He echoes CEO concerns claiming the talent shortage will last for decades and that this poses a major crisis for the industry globally, and particularly in Australia. “Technology companies in particular, which rely heavily on top talent to drive innovation, will suffer from this global problem,” Tampling says. “Over half of the companies surveyed said they plan to expand their workforce by more than 25% with the vast majority wanting to grow organically. “However, all agree the biggest challenge to companies is finding, hiring and retaining qualified employees.” Tampling says CEOs have made talent their top personal challenge in a bid to develop the next generation of leaders.

However, he says a large number express concern about the focus of national education systems.

This environment, Tampling says, has had a drastic impact on views around offshoring. “Offshoring used to be seen as cut-rate labour supply, but now it is a valuable source of talent that is not available back home,” he says.

An estimated 546 CEOs are included in the survey which covers the top 500 fastest growing tech companies across the globe including America, Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa.

To enter the fast 500 CEOs must demonstrate three years of exponential growth. Of those surveyed 38% were from the Asia Pacific region. The Deloitte findings support another survey conducted at PacRim, the 16th annual Pacific Rim Help Desk & IT Service Management conference, which was held in Queensland last month.

The PacRim poll found that 75% of ANZ CEOs listed ‘talent shortages’ as one of the most serious items on their agenda.

Respondents say business leaders today need to be talent managers, especially those working in ICT where the skills shortage is even more acute.

Desperate to find help desk staff, Improving People team leader Brad Cork says he has been struggling to find staff for the last two years.

“I said to my team to go over to the local shopping centre, find anyone good at customer service and let me know. We ended up hiring someone from the local pharmacy,” he says.

Deloitte’s head of IT infrastructure, Chris Mills-Vasas, believes that the way managers see people and their value to the organisation needs to change dramatically.

“Deloitte has achieved some great results by having a ‘Talent Mindset’. We encourage everyone to undertake development plans, regularly review and support our people and offer variety in roles,” he says.

“Helpdesk is often seen as an entry-level role, yet this is the face of the IT organisation and as such, we need to make it more interesting for Gen Ys who like variety and challenge — in order to keep people in these critical roles.

“As we give value to each role and make them more interesting — we attract talented people and keep them longer.”

HCI (Human Capital Institute), an international think tank and research organisation for the human capital industry, agrees leaders need to become talent managers.

“The traditional business advantages of scale, physical assets, and financial capital are eroding as the global playing field is leveled by new technologies and networks,” according to HCI research.

“In a global, knowledge economy, the human attributes of intellectual curiosity, innovation, and decisive action are the drivers of competitive advantage.

“The companies that thrive are those with leaders across all functions, and at every level, that effectively focus on talent management. Attracting, aligning, and empowering knowledge workers and creatives requires new skills for line managers and executives alike. Every leader needs to become a talent manager.”

Career Group coach Kirsten Daly says extinction will become a reality for those organisations that don’t have a talent mindset.

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Tags skills shortageSpecial IDtalent drought

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