An industry spokesperson has predicted the IT skills shortage will get worse before it gets better and urged local professionals to get up to speed.
Global vice-president of the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), Steve Gilroy, who recently visited Sydney, said it was a global problem. Comptia has about 20,000 members in more than 100 countries.
"The bulk of our membership sees a skills shortage now, and we predict it will get worse in the next 5-10 years," he said. "It's not just a lack of people - the IT skills in demand will change significantly and rapidly. It's critical that we put programs in place to generate these skills."
People leaving the IT industry and not being replaced by the younger generation, as well as offshoring, were highlighted as amplifying the problem. The biggest trouble spot was soft skills, Gilroy said.
"There's a significant shortage of IT staff in a variety of roles without the right project management or team working skills," he said. "It's not just about technology skills. There's real demand for people who communicate well, can work in a project team and are highly adaptable. "Ten years ago, we had very clearly defined IT roles like software developer or network administrators. Going forward, professionals have to be dynamic so they are more employable for the long term."
Over the next 12-18 months, the local arm of Comp-TIA, IT Pro, will launch a range of initiatives designed to address skills shortages at an individual and industry level. It is working with TAFE institutions as well as the Australian Government Information Management Office to ensure educational content covers skills needed within the industry.
Gilroy said one offering would help employers measure internal skills against industry norms. It is expected to be launched by the end of the first quarter. "They can have 50-100 staff assessed using different tests in target areas. We will then provide them with a benchmark report on how they compare globally and locally," he said. CompTIA has also devised channel-specific programs to help resellers and integrators. One of these, the Reseller Transformation Roadmap, is aimed at making the channel successful in selling services and solutions. Gilroy said it was now working with local players to develop a council which could tailor the initiative specifically to the local market.
In the middle of the year, IT Pro also expects to unveil a certification program for integrators working in the digital home space. It has already launched the program in the US in conjunction with the Consumer Electronic Association. Called the Digital Home Technology Integrator+ certification, it will encompass job roles and skills in systems infrastructure and integration; media centre and entertainment PCs; and controls for telecommunications, lighting, energy and security.
IT Pro was launched in Australia two years ago. It is now headed up by regional manager and former Australian Computer Society president, Edward Mandla.