IT directors concerned about return of skills shortage


6 Sep 2004

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A survey of 700 European IT directors has revealed that Irish IT directors are the most worried in Europe about an IT skills shortage. The survey also found that today’s Irish IT directors wear two hats. One says ‘IT strategist’ while the other reads ‘IT fire-fighter’, warning that directors are complaining that there aren’t enough hours in the day to wear both considering daily bombardments from the latest virus or security threat.

Irish IT directors accounted for 10pc of the overall survey, which was commissioned by managed services technology firm Synstar. It was discovered that one in two Irish IT directors are worried about an IT skills shortage, compared to just 2pc in the UK or 8pc in Germany.

“The findings are startling and suggest that the technology labour market has recovered in Ireland following the downturn over the last three years,” commented Ian Byrne, business services manager of Synstar in Ireland.

Byrne said while the results endorse the decision of parents and students to return to science and technology courses as reflected in the recent CAO applications, the IT industry could potentially see a temporary shortage of skilled people due to the flight away from IT courses over the past three years.

He said the shortage could provide a boon to managed services providers such as Synstar. “This lack of skilled IT people makes it particularly difficult for Ireland’s small and medium-sized enterprises to manage their entire IT infrastructure in house, since we are likely to see a return to increased upper pressure on IT salaries and good people being headhunted.”

Byrne said that the results represented a major turnaround from last year when the survey found that 88pc of Irish IT directors had no concerns about an IT skills shortage.

The Synstar study also finds that Irish IT directors are the most worried in Europe about having to manage too great a workload. Some 57pc say they have too much to manage. This compares to just 14pc in Germany.

“Companies need to make sure that their senior IT people have time to devote to strategy, which is crucial for business success,” cautioned Byrne.

In addition, the Synstar report highlights other major concerns. Over half (57pc) of Irish IT directors are worried about the security of their IT systems; one of the highest levels of concern amongst the seven European countries surveyed.

Synstar’s report finds that another major challenge for IT directors is to ensure that IT strategy is aligned with and supports the business strategy. While one in three of Irish respondents is happy that this is being achieved, the study finds that the remainder are worried or have, at least, some concern about this.

By John Kennedy