Blog: IT Takes a Village

Blog: IT Takes a Village

It takes a village to raise a Generation Y staffer, and ageing CIOs should never forget it

With Baby Boomers' — meaning many CIOs' — sights firmly on retirement, and Generation Y proving a fickle bunch, apparently needing to be courted like reluctant lovers and constantly praised however unspectacular their performance, career development programs are becoming a vital competitive differentiator.

In fact, why wouldn't any aspiring IT worker, in an industry crying out for any warm body it can get with a modicum of IT nous, deny loyalty to any organization that isn't prepared to train and mentor him or her?

The message from McCrindle is that the skills shortage is a demographic reality that will be with us for at least a generation

Many CIOs I know expect to retire within a decade if not considerably sooner, or at least ease themselves into a more leisurely lifestyle by taking up a part-time consultancy career. Some differ from those chomping at their heels in having spent the biggest chunk of their managerial careers in a single organization, and are grateful for the knowledge that experience has helped them accumulate.

With their organizations already feeling the pinch as some of their peers start the march to retirement, they, either out of a strong sense of professionalism, or loyalty to the organizations that have shaped their careers, have instituted strong career development programs and have firm succession plans in place, both of which they are rightly proud, and use in-house coaches and/or mentors to drive development.

At the same time, these CIOs survey their latest batches of new recruits with considerably jaundiced eyes. Certainly, the skills of some of the young guns can hardly fail to impress; equally, their apparent flightiness and self-obsession causes discomfort. Some CIOs tell me they find themselves at a loss to build workplace environments compelling enough to keep these young people on the job.

Now two studies make apparent that for those CIOs already offering strong career development and mentoring, "more of the same and then some" is the way to go.

Last month Jay Jamrog, senior vice president of research at the US-based Institute for Corporate Productivity, released a study revealing 60 per cent of 382 companies polled had a career development program. Some 41 per cent used in-house coaches or mentors to drive development.

"When it comes to career development, many companies have an 'it-takes-a-village' mind-set. In my observation, career development programs are on the rise for many companies and appear to be an up-and-coming trend," Jamrog says. "The reasons for this new trend are twofold: First, a lot of companies are complaining about talent and leadership shortages, and career development programs are the best way of addressing these shortages. Second, younger employees attach a great amount of value to career development programs. If they don't feel they're getting anywhere or learning anything, they'll just leave. So these are retention, as well as development, programs."

And back home a recent report called "Bridging the Gap: A guide to managing and retaining the new generation of apprentices and trainees", by McCrindle Research, showed that in an employees' market that is likely to stay that way for years, the only real power bosses have is the power to make life as pleasant as possible for their Gen Y employees.

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