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Wednesday, 29 April 2009 14:28

Asia Pacific economies weighed down by IT skills shortages

IT skills shortages in the Asia Pacific region are affecting the ability of countries in the region to rebound quickly from the economic crisis, with regional businesses experiencing the greatest shortages in areas like enterprise architecture, application development and system integration.

A study by Springboard Research – Bridging the Gap: Asia Pacific IT Skills Report – found that the shortage of skilled IT professionals is impacting many industries, including the IT industry itself, and negatively affecting the ability of regional economies to rebound as quickly from the downturn.

Springboard’s findings are based on a survey of 400 IT end-users and IT companies, 400 software developers and programmers and 82 IT training and education providers in Australia, China, India, Malaysia and Philippines.

Ravi Shekhar Pandey, Springboard research manager, says the biggest current skills-related challenge facing the IT industry is not availability, but rather gaps in the available skill pool, and, he adds, the quality of both technical and non-technical skills is also an issue.

“Where quality is not a concern, it is challenging to find enough people with an adequate blend of skills and experience.”

The report also points out that while skill shortages appear more acute in the manufacturing and government sectors, the poor skills quality of IT professionals is among the top challenges for banking & finance, and government organisations, and lack of IT professionals with business-specific domain knowledge the top challenge for manufacturing and high-tech companies. In terms of vendor-specific skills, Springboard found that Microsoft skills are finding favour with more than 70% of those who are planning to hire new staff, followed by SAP, Oracle and IBM-specific skills.

Shekhar Pandey says, however, that the economic slowdown is helping organisations retool their IT skills, and the research points to the fact that over 70% of the businesses surveyed are not looking to hire IT staff in the next 6-12 months.

“Of those who are planning to hire, most organisations are looking for people with skills in IT support and maintenance, followed by those with skills in application development and system integration.

“We believe that as demand for IT products and services slows down, organisations can acquire new employees and skills without paying a premium. While IT user companies can use the opportunity to fill gaps in their organisation’s skill sets, IT vendors and the local partner eco-system can selectively augment their existing staff and build new practices,” Shekhar added.

Springboard also says that Demand for Java is Encroaching on Microsoft's Turf, and its survey of IT developers revealed that while Microsoft programming languages are the most popular amongst developers, more than half of those surveyed think that Java is a “must-have language in today’s business environment.”

Shekhar says that Java is also the first preference for new learning, with developers also interested in acquiring skills beyond language and technology, and 37% of those interviewed rated acquiring skills in project management as their top priority.

“In terms of vendor-specific skills, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP are the top three priorities for the developers,” according to Shekhar, and he says the survey of IT training and education providers revealed that courses in Java and C++ languages are most popular and in demand.

“Web Services and XML, security management and software & system testing are the top technology-specific skills courses offered by these providers.”

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