IT skills gap must be plugged

Not enough people are being attracted to a career in IT and a skills gap is emerging, one expert has claimed.

Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Center for Digital Business and co-author of the book, Race Against The Machine, believes that while technology is evolving rapidly, the skills many people have isn’t keeping pace.

He feels that the problem lies within companies who are buying in new technologies but never actually spending the time needed to ensure that all their staff can use it effectively.

“As a consequence, there is a bigger and bigger gap between what the technologies can and are doing and what our skills and organisations are,” Mr Brynjolfsson explained.

“That gap is leading to a lot of disruptions, it is leading to a lot of people unemployed, it is leading to falling wages for big sections of the economy and the workforce and I think it is going to lead to more and more discourse as we get this growing disconnect between technological capabilities and our own skills and organisations.”

His comments follow on shortly from a report published by the national training body e-skils which suggested that the 129,000 new people will need to be recruited to the IT and communications sector between now and 2020.

Indeed, the body said that over the course of the next eight years around 148,000 IT professionals will leave the industry but only 19,000 positions will be filled by people switching from existing technology positions.

The biggest demand will be in “higher value areas”, e-skills said, including positions in project management, systems architecture, business process, change management, risk management, web development and security.
However, e-skills warned that a significant challenge will be seen from offshore outsourcing projects.

“The move of certain IT activities to lower cost countries over recent years is creating challenges in terms of career paths and skills development,” the body’s report said.
“However, this is also creating opportunity by enabling significant sector growth and growing skills needs, in particular there are immediate requirements focussing around areas such as cloud computing and security and data protection.”

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