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Is there really an IT skills shortage?

IT recruitment specialist, Andrew Cross, believes there is a “disconnect” between employers and candidates, not an IT skills shortage

There is not necessarily an IT skills shortage, according to Andrew Cross, managing director of IT recruitment firm Ambition Technology.

Instead, the problem is employers narrowing their candidate requirements too much, he said.

“It really is much more a skills misalignment, as we were calling it, and that by just recognising if you look a little bit outside the box, you’ll probably solve your recruitment needs without having to offshore or go to alternative [means],” Andrew Cross told CIO Australia.

He said this disconnect is due to a gap in understanding on behalf of both candidates and employers. For example, employers are advertising for just Cloud, Big Data or mobility experts, but due to the relatively short timeframe they have existed, many candidates aren't considered "experts" or "specialists" in these areas.

Candidates are also failing to highlight skills which reflect the job title of the position they are applying for, Cross said.

“I think from a candidate perspective they need to think about the types of titles being used in job applications and address their résumés and their job applications appropriately to target what’s being sought,” he said.

“From a client perspective or an employer perspective, they need to be thinking about the reach that they’re trying to cover in potential employees and again, use appropriately worded job descriptions to cover the market. There’s a little bit too much reliance on perfect matches, not just in job titles but even when it comes through to the interview stage as well.”

Cross said he has posed the scenario of having 100 candidates to clients – five candidates have the exact skills they are looking for but employers would need to pay a higher premium for them, while 95 people may have some of the skills required, and with training, could come up to speed for the desired requirements and be a more cost effective solution.

“Nine times out of 10 the group will have a bit of a chuckle and then say ‘yeah, we want one of those five’. So you’re talking to senior executive teams who clearly understand the problem and yet still aren’t prepared to do anything to address it,” he said.

One way employers can help address the problem, according to Cross, is to think beyond just job titles. For example, he said one client was seeking a Twitter expert with more than five years’ experience.

“It’s just ridiculous ... I said you’d be hard pressed [to find that] because Twitter has [only] been operating since 2009 and he laughed and said ‘really?’ He said ‘well just find me a guru then’.

“So, there’s such a need by employers to get the latest and the greatest or the best in their field, they’re missing the good candidates and they’re missing the obvious issue.”

However, Cross conceded it is not just a matter of changing a job title that will solve a company’s recruitment needs. He said employers also need to clearly define what skills and attributes they are seeking in people and what is needed for the job.

Cross said candidates can also succeed by demonstrating how they can positively impact on a company’s financial bottom line. He advises candidates to do their research and understand the technological skills required in the position being advertised.

“Learn the language that’s being used, but more importantly, translate that into a business benefit or a solution so that you can articulate – even if you don’t have the exact package or domain knowledge … that value back to the client,” he said.

“I think it’s being solution-focused, as opposed to just word matching.”

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There it's absolutely no job shortage in Australia in the IT Industry... if anything there's a huge oversupply of candidates. yes, employers are looking for superman IT people who can be all thing to all parts of their business and have unrealistic expectations...

I know one water corporation that about a year ago hired in their CIO from the UK - it was an unmitigated disaster... he left within 12months, and probably started looking for his next job after only being in his current for 6months... importing doesn't work - employers need to look at the cultural fit, as the 110% technical fit they're often looking for doesn't exist, unless of course the candidate is 'stretchiing the truth somewhat'..



Yes spot on - there is definitely no skills shortage!

Employers are just stupid to think that exact skill matches can be found in a rapidly changing industry and career.

Putting up titles such as Cloud expert, SAP version xx expert, etc - when these technology changes have only been around for a short time is ridiculous.

It makes you wonder how these people made it into the management positions they occupy. I'd suggest its through they're absolute lying of their own real skills and abilities.

The real problem in the ICT profession is fraudulent ICT managers who then have unrealistic recruitment ideas...

God help the ICT profession - if we can actually call it that with such unprofessional people in charge.



Absolutely agreed! I'm always suprised to see job offer for 65k requiring, UX, WIN, EXCH, MSSQL STORAGE, BACKUP, CISCO strong administering and managing experience. I'd like to know who'll they hire at the end. And who's actualy doing the interviews. Do those people realy ask some technical questions or just ask the way - do you have experience in this and that..?
No way a man of those qualities whould take a job for that price nor there's somebody who's 100% in every task.

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