IT staff shortage a worldwide problem

Ever become frustrated trying to fill an IT position? Well, you're not alone. Chances are you knew that already - most people know that filling IT positions can be harder than finding Bolger supporters in a room full of National MPs. All you need to do is look at the positions available in publications like Computerworld to get a feel for the shortage. And it's a worldwide problem, so you can't rely on overseas recruitment to help out.

Ever become frustrated trying to fill an IT position?

Well, you’re not alone.

Chances are you knew that already — most people know that filling IT positions can be harder than finding Bolger supporters in a room full of National MPs.

All you need to do is look at the positions available in publications like Computerworld to get a feel for the shortage.

And it’s a worldwide problem, so you can’t rely on overseas recruitment to help out.

A US Commerce Department study, America’s New Deficit: The Shortage of Information Technology Workers, last month warned that the gap between new information technology jobs and available talent to fill them is widening, a shortage that “could have severe consequences for America’s competitiveness, economic growth and job creation”.

In the next seven years, US companies will require more than a million new IS workers, the report says.

According to the managing director of Career Exchange, Sydney-based Nigel Double, there are 500,000 unfilled IT positions in the Western world.

Career Exchange has organised a Careers In Technology Exhibition at the Auckland Convention (Aotea) Centre on November 18 to 19, where potential employers and employees can meet to fill one or two of those 500,000 positions. While it won’t solve the IT staff shortage, it might make things a little easier for employers and employees by bringing them all together in one place.

Double says there will be more than 1000 jobs on offer at the exhibition.

“And even if they don’t have a job on offer now, a company might know they plan to expand by 100% in six to 12 months, so they might take somebody on in future.”

For that reason, he suggests that even if people don’t plan to leave their current jobs right now, the exhibition could be worth a visit to work on future opportunities.

Double believes such exhibitions are the future of recruitment and adds that in the US and UK they are often used to recruit staff.

Although recruitment agencies do a good job, Double says often companies feel as if they just become another number when finding potential employees through traditional routes.

He says part of the problem for companies searching for just the right person is that they don’t know who is out there.

It’s easier with positions in senior management, because companies tend to know who’s out there, who’s good and who they might be able to head-hunt.

But with people like analysts, programmers, sales people, customer service staff and graduates, they often have no idea of the talent that may be available.

There will be 20 exhibitors at the Careers InTechnology Exhibition — ranging from very small New Zealand companies, to larger international ones. Double is expecting between 4000 and 5000 people to come through the doors.

A recent Sydney exhibition with a similar focus attracted 7000 people. There were 2000 jobs available there and 600 of those have now been filled, with others still being worked through.

Double predicts IT staff shortages will be around for a while yet. He says that in Australia a 25% growth in IT positions is expected in the next two years, and he believes the same will apply in New Zealand.

In Australia, the IT industry is equivalent to the tourism industry, and it would be in the top three industries in New Zealand, he says.

Double says New Zealanders are regarded as highly skilled workers all around the world.

“I deal with a lot of companies in America and they’re screaming for New Zealanders.”

Career Exchange has also held exhibitions in Hong Kong and Singapore, and has a focus on the Asia-Pacific region.

Mills is Computerworld’s careers writer. Contact her at kirstin_mills@idg.co.nz.

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