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Skills shortage may crimp Asia's IT rise

CIOs keen on expats, but won't let influx inflate wages

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Asia Pacific will once again be the envy of the tech world in 2013 as it posts steady ICT spending growth of near eight per cent, but a worsening skills shortage could hamper enterprise technology adoption, according to IDC.

The analyst’s top ten predictions for 2013 began with good news for the region (excluding Japan) in the 7.6 per cent growth stat which mirrors 2012’s figure and comes in at almost the same as Gartner’s recent estimate of 7.8 per cent.

By comparison, Gartner predicted the worldwide average for 2013 to be just 3.7 per cent.

However, IDC argued that an increasing talent shortage in APAC could harm organisations' innovation efforts as CIOs struggle to adapt to ongoing technological change.

Half of employers in the region have problems with skills shortages, while most mature markets have declining numbers of IT grads – for example, Australia, where grad numbers have slumped by 5.3 per cent CAGR over the last five years - said IDC.

Importing talent, as Singapore has done in large numbers, can lead to unwanted inflation in the market, so CIOs are being encouraged to invest more in training and certification for existing staff and to rehire where necessary.

However, IDC added that in some circumstances “the use of external resources to supplement or replace in-house talent will be the best choice” – offering the prospect of opportunities for highly skilled ex-pat IT pros looking for a new challenge in a new land.

The most recent Employment Trends report from recruitment firm Hudson revealed that IT hiring expectations in Hong Kong and China were the highest in the region, with Singaporean firms slightly more cautious.

Tony Pownall, general manager of Hudson Hong Kong, branded it “an employee-driven market, particularly in IT”, with 51.2 per cent of firms planning to increase headcount – the largest of any sector.

IDC also warned CIOs that with over half of tech projects set to involve the line of business in 2013, those who fail to engage properly with this side of the organisation risk undermining their roles and marginalising their entire department so that it ends up as a mere support function.

Finally, IDC predicted some good news for Microsoft in the mobile computing space for next year, claiming that CIOs will invest heavily in Windows 8 tablets as an answer to their BYOD headaches in managing iOS and Android devices.

As always though, there were caveats, as the analyst warned this could be a “very short-sighted approach”:

Windows 8 tablets will only become broadly accepted work devices if they win the hearts and minds of the consumer - if not, many companies will see their employees ditch their company-issued devices in favour of their own in 2014 and beyond.

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