02 Mar 2012
Your article about the skills gap is somewhat adrift from reality (Is the UK heading for another tech skills crisis?). The skills gap seems to be mythical, or at least artificial. As a recruiter I have not had any trouble finding good applicants for developer jobs.
The article also says that there are more senior jobs than applicants; in fact for any senior role there are likely to be several hundred applicants. Typically there are 300 applicants for every IT manager position and that has been so for at least the past 10 years, barring a brief excursion to 500-plus in 2001.
A lot of the key IT skills are vested in people who got fed up and decided that driving minicabs was better money for less stress. Next time you take a minicab, particularly in the south-west, ask your driver what they did before. You might then ask why so many people with sufficient commercial skills to become self-employed have all left IT.
The principal reason is that employers do not recruit people with business skills if those skills are on their CV. Those skills dilute the technology buzzwords that an agency needs to search for when they have 300-plus applicants for each job. If industry wants these skills it needs to take active steps to find the people who have them and then endeavour to keep them.
My advice to companies looking to recruit is to go easy on the mushroom management: your IT manager should be the first person you discuss strategic initiatives with. They budget today for the systems to buy next year to enable the bold initiatives that the consultants will sell you in five years’ time.
The helpdesk knows more about how the business really works than the CEO does: tap that knowledge. Change your recruitment policies: insist on a much higher level of computer literacy in every management or potential management role: the poor technology knowledge of your middle-managers is a drag on your operational efficiency and agility. The poor technology knowledge in the boardroom is a drag on strategic agility: adapt or die.