Staff shortages in Wellington’s ICT departments are not severe, a set of surveys by student teams at the city’s Institute of Technology (WelTec) have found. In particular, few organisations say the ICT staff shortfall is serious enough to handicap their growth.
However, roles such as network administrator, project manager and “sales and support staff with accounting skills” are falling particularly short of demand, the surveys found. And in the future, demand for web designers and web administrators is expected to grow well beyond the potential supply.
Most demand is for common occupational classes like “programmer/analyst”, but in one of the four surveys, the category where the shortfall of supply over demand is by far the largest is “other”.
Breaking down this category further by interview, the survey found classes such as security experts, technical writers and “wireless engineers with IP skills” among the specialists most in demand.
Some of the four teams found Wellington organisations complaining of an inadequate breadth of skills among applicants, particularly “soft skills” such as interpersonal communication and written expression.
Several IT managers at the surveyed organisations’ pointed to a lack of “real-world experience” among aspirants to the industry, with too narrow a technical specialisation.
Applicants are sourced, according to all the surveys, chiefly from other Wellington organisations or straight from educational institutions in the capital. There appears to be little effort among companies to train and promote from within.
At the other end of the scale, the students found less hesitancy than expected about employing staff from overseas; this was a specific piece of information requested by Positively Wellington Business (formerly the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency), which commissioned the surveys. One student team records that the ICT industry is more accepting of migrants than most other New Zealand industries. Ranking highest among the barriers to migrant recruitment are, not surprisingly, the perceived lack of English-language skills and the expense of overseas recruitment and travel.
Word of mouth is still the most popular method of recruitment, leading one team to suggest that aspiring entrants to the industry would be better to get themselves onto interpersonal networks than scan the small ads or visit recruitment agencies. Outsourcing of ICT recruitment to such agencies was, however, found to be on the increase.
Most of the histograms of responses show a clear view one way or the other, with most respondents “strongly agreeing” or “strongly disagreeing” with survey statements. About the only exception is in the response to questions on the appropriateness of the education provided by tertiary institutions. Here the peak is in the middle, carrying the message “satisfactory, but could do better”.