April 22, 2009

Wanted: ICT Skills

IT and telecom skills are still in short supply across Asia, despite the economic crisis.
The gap is particularly sharp in Australia, where the Australian Computer Society (ACS) says skills gaps exist “across the board” and predicts 14,000 vacancies by 2010.

Hong Kong and Singapore businesses are seeking experts in business analysis and security and in areas attracting fresh investment such as new media.The continuing demand for IT skill sets flies in the face of the massive contraction in the regional jobs market.

The number of Australian ICT job ads grew 1.4% in February after falling by 16.7% in January, according to the Olivier Job Index. Ads are down 47% year-on-year.Hong Kong IT job ads fell 37.6% in the fourth quarter, says recruitment firm Robert Walters. Singapore ads were down 35.9% compared with a 40.7% decline across all sectors. Ads in China and Japan contracted 20.1% and 27.1% respectively.

ACS chairman Kumar Parakala said despite the slump, Australian IT skill gaps had opened up in “health informatics, mining, business systems integration, ICT project development, business support, business analysts and games development.“ICT skills shortages will grow by 29% by the year 2010 to just over 14,000 jobs unless we make changes to policy on ICT employment and skills,” he said.

The gap, which he predicted would increase to 25,000 jobs by 2020, was a result of a lack of investment in training by employers, low numbers of students and in particular women, and the emigration of IT professionals to higher-paying jobs abroad. Australia’s Department of Immigration is reportedly having trouble finding employees with SAP, Siebel, network security and Java skills.

Agnes Mak, director of The Hong Kong Institute for IT Professional Certification, says the territory faces a chronic shortage of business analysts and information security experts. “It is easy to find a techie, but it is not easy to find a good business analyst who can understand the business,” she said. “They act as a bridge between the users and the IT group, and are especially sought-after in big IT organizations.”She said businesses were seeking both high-level and operational level security specialists. “Previously only senior experts were in demand, but now organizations see that the mindset should go from top to bottom.”

Axer Goh, senior consultant at Robert Walters’ IT contract division, said that after cutting costs, Singapore companies “see the need to increase or maintain productivity and efficiency levels to stay competitive,” she said.-

Source: Telecom Asia

Apr 16, 2009
By Dylan Bushell-Embling

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