Column: IT skill shortages cropping up in some surprising areas

SAP, mainframe and project management skills are in short supply, writes Stephen Bell in this week's Computerworld Education, Training and Careers special report.

Several areas facing a shortage of skilled IT workers are highlighted in this week's Education, Training and Careers feature by Computerworld writer Stephen Bell.

Among his findings:

* A shortage of SAP skilled workers--there is a continuing flow of SAP-trained developers coming through, but demand is exceeds supply. Carter Holt Harvey information systems manger David Stewart says this situation means recruitment agencies tend to nominate SAP-skilled people from overseas for local jobs.

* Project management skills are harder to find than technical skills.

* Smalltalk skills are in short supply. ANZ Bank's chief manager of planning and systems, John Gilbert, says his company finds it hard to recruit people with Smalltalk skills--worsened by the fact that it is also hard for programmers to get training in this area.

* Mainframe skills are lacking despite a lot of Year 2000 work still to be done. Gilbert says that, with a natural inclination among developers to want to work with the latest technology, many do not train in the older programming languages. Instead, there has been a shift to distributed systems. Those who do have mainframe and Smalltalk skills are able to levy increasingly higher charges for their time.

* AS/400 skills in RPG are among the hardest to find.

* There are plenty of skilled Visual Basic workers but, as with SAP, plenty of demand, making it hard for some projects to get enough programmers.

* OS/2 support for LANs and workstations is harder to come by than for other networks.

* Support in general is harder to get for public service projects because of the higher rates of pay in the private sector.

De Bono coming

Every day in every way he's getting better and better--motivation guru Edward de Bono is coming this week (June 24-27) to hold seminars in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. De Bono originated the theory of lateral thinking and has written more than 50 books on teaching, staff motivation and solving business problems.

De Bono's main focus is on how to stimulate creativity within an organisation but he also has a theory called "moving into the third technology", where the first is production of commodities and the second competition. He believes the world is now entering the third technology of "value monopolies". In this model, corporate strategy is not enough and R&D departments must be used to take business beyond strategy to their full potential.

Ph 0-4-388 1288 for seminar details.

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