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Why the global IT skills shortage needs to be addressed

Nick Marsh, Managing Director, Harvey Nash Executive Search APAC | Jan. 15, 2016
he Harvey Nash CIO Survey 2015 shows that, 71 per cent of CIOs based in the APAC region believe a skills shortage is preventing their organisations from keeping up with the pace of change, 12 per cent higher than the global average.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

With technology playing an increasingly important role in our daily lives, enterprises are not only prioritising strengthening their investments in IT systems, but also their investment in those managing IT.

For many companies, attracting and retaining high tech staff has become their number one concern. In the recent Harvey Nash Technology Survey, 53% of technology hiring managers reported a skills shortage in 2015, with 44% of hiring managers expecting skills shortages to get worse in the future. The situation is particularly pertinent in Asia-Pacific. The Harvey Nash CIO Survey 2015 shows that, 71 per cent of CIOs based in the APAC region believe a skills shortage is preventing their organisations from keeping up with the pace of change, 12 per cent higher than the global average. This lack of skilled IT professional cascades down the entire function, meaning there will continue to be a lack of those well-versed in technology to fill senior roles in the future.

A recent survey from Accenture revealed that only six per cent of directors overseeing the world's largest banks have any technology experience, despite IT issues such as cyber security coming under increasing scrutiny at the boardroom level.  This lack of technology understanding is worrying as companies face continued pressure for digital expansion whilst at the same time having to defend against increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks.

IT skills lacking across all sectors

While CIOs report technology headcount has risen to a five-year high, 50 per cent of global CIOs report they are increasingly using outsourcers to supplement skills they cannot find in house.  This compares to just 25 per cent of CIOs who are looking to their outsourcers to save them money, suggesting an evolving role for outsourcers as companies are willing to spend to find the skills they need.

Big Data and analytics were identified as the most sought after skills in the survey, followed by change management and development. The biggest fall in demand was for skills in technical architecture, enterprise architecture and business analysis.

Lack of women in IT

The lack of talent in IT is further compounded by an absence of women in senior IT roles. The Harvey Nash CIO Survey highlights a lack of women in technology focused leadership roles, particularly in APAC. While this lack of women in IT has received significant media and political attention, the proportion of women in IT leadership roles remains stagnant year after year.

The survey reveals the number of women in IT leadership positions - CIO, CTO or SVP title - is down two per cent from 2013, to a mere eight per cent this year. Seven per cent of APAC respondents were female IT leaders, one per cent lower than the global average; this falls to an even lower rate in markets like Hong Kong and China where just five per cent of respondents are female IT leaders.

 

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