Feeds

Skills shortage: it's mind over matter

Aptitude beats experience

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

The IT skills shortage is like global warming - you either believe it exists or you don't. Either way, one thing's for certain - the debate refuses to lay down and die.

For those who believe there is a shortage, there is plenty of evidence to support their argument. And for those who believe the shortage is a myth that's perpetrated by businesses to justify sending skilled jobs to less-expensive regions or hire in inexpensive immigrant labour, then there appears to be plenty of supporting evidence, too.

The reality is somewhat more complex especially in software development. The software skills required by the IT industry and in user departments at any one time constantly change so there is always going to be a shortage of some skills some of the time.

The demand for SAP skills, for example, is expected to be high in 2008. Demand for skills in new areas such as open source, Linux, Web 2.0 and AJAX are almost certainly bound to be high next year too. And surprisingly, there is a growing demand for good, old-fashioned mainframe skills as the Baby Boomer generation retires and leaves a gap in supporting legacy systems.

Constant change has always been a problem in regard to skills for our sector, and is often the cause of perceived shortages. It has made it hard to define exactly what fundamental skills are important to developers. The scramble is always for this month's fashionable programming notation, operating system or database technology rather than on the underlying skills that define a properly qualified programmer, as SlickEdit's Scott Westfall points out.

Good programmers can learn fast and adapt to changes in technology relatively easily - provided they have good basic skills. Hiring teams would do best to pay attention to the late, great Edsger Dijkstra who wrote: "A competent programmer's most important assets are - perhaps in this order - an excellent mastery of his native tongue and a considerable mathematical maturity."

The worry should therefore, not be that there is skills shortage - but that the next generation of workers is either not interested in IT as a career or simply does not have the basic skills to train for the job.

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.