Jobs for not quite all?

The skills shortage debate continues to rage, as NME readers hit back at suggestions regional job candidates do not have the technical ability enterprises require.

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By  Eliot Beer Published  August 1, 2006

|~||~||~|In the last NME electronic newsletter, I highlighted the comments of one regional IT manager, who said he found it difficult to hire skilled staff; I went on to suggest that the issue might lie with there being simply too many jobs for IT graduates to fill. This provoked a flurry of responses, such as this from Emran A Hamdan, a manager at Axiom Telecom in the UAE: “I do not fully agree with your friend that shortage of IT skills in the Middle East and I also want to emphases that talent is also produced at Middle East universities, not only in the west! However, practical training is what we don’t have in most schools.” He goes on to comment that fresh graduates in the region sometimes face a wait of up to 18 months before employment, and must start on half-pay for six months when they do start work. “There is not an issue of skill shortage. Skill is there but we need to discover it. Rather we should say that we need to give people the opportunity to flash out as an professional,” wrote Sandipta Mishra, who also says that candidates should be given a chance to develop even if they do not score highly on practical tests. Mishra also comments that employment packages in the Middle East IT sector are much less generous than in other parts of the world. Maryjane Pearman of Nadia Recruitment makes the same point, saying that salaries are average and long-term prospects are non-existent, at least in the UAE. “The country has not promoted itself as a land of opportunity in the IT sector, good technical people are being lured to greener pastures in other countries and we have yet to step up and compete,” she says. These comments point the finger firmly at enterprises and IT and network managers, suggesting that they need to do more to attract the best candidates. There is also the suggestion that the jobs are simply not there. At the same time, a report from America suggests that many firms, at least in that part of the world, are ignoring experienced IT staff because they lack a specific skill. Instead of hiring senior, domestic personnel, enterprises will recruit from overseas or outsource to locations such as India. This is not the USA, and there is by no means the same level of residual skills here, but the suggestion that enterprises may be ignoring skilled candidates because of a single specific (and very possibly redeemable) skill gap, has an interesting resonance with the opinions above. The ball is very much in the court of senior IT managers and enterprises now. Are they complacent and out of touch with the global jobs market, or is there in fact a genuine skills shortage affecting the region? Or, as one correspondent, only identified as ‘T’, asked: “You mention all the jobs and lack of skills - but where are these jobs??” Eliot Beer – Deputy Editor, NME What are your views on the skills issue? Write to eliot.beer@itp.com||**||

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