The great skills shortage scam

The great skills shortage scam

You've heard it. I've heard it. Who hasn't heard it? The high-tech industry is supposed to be suffering from a skills shortage. Really?

Well, no, as a matter of fact. The problem is rather one of misdiagnosis and misuse. Far too much recruiting for the high-tech industry focuses on hardware and software skills rather than "peopleware" skills.

It is, you see, a buyer's market. There is a shortage of good jobs, and an abundance of eager candidates. So personnel departments exaggerate their needs for hardware and software skills in order to "skim off" the best prospects. Just check the want ads, bulletin boards or job fairs.

But many of the skills they ask for are rarely or never actually used on the job. Perhaps someday, in some unusual situation, these skills might be needed, but in the meantime these new hires are really over-qualified and under-employed.

The problem arises because the high-tech industry does not use its own methods to determine its personnel needs. Systems analysts are employed by companies to work with clients and end users to determine things like needs assessments and requirement specifications.

But these same firms don't use systems analysis to determine their own personnel needs or job descriptions.

So what sorts of skills does the high-tech industry really need? People skills. Almost every problem that clients and end users have with high-tech products occurs because these products don't reflect the needs of real people doing real tasks.

Technology should serve a support role, not a dominant role. People's needs and capabilities should be the predominant concern. The real problem is that the high-tech industry has no ETHICS.

Let me explain. ETHICS (Effective Technical and Human Implementation of Computer-based Systems) is a type of systems analysis that places the proper emphasis on people.

But to use it, the high-tech industry would need to hire more personnel from the human sciences, and fewer from the engineering disciplines.

The claim of a skills shortage in the high-tech industries is a scam. The problem is a techno-centric mind-set. Too many with engineering skills are hired, and not nearly enough with people skills. These new hires turn out products that don't properly serve the needs of clients or end users.

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