Vanishing act

Enterprises are finding that more and more skilled IT employees are disappearing from the market.

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By  Brid-Aine Conway Published  April 25, 2008

Enterprises are finding that more and more skilled IT employees are disappearing from the market and they may finally be realising that, despite the obstacles, staff training could be the best way to combat this shortage.

Ask any IT employee what they think about IT training in general and they'll probably tell you there isn't enough of it. The truth is that it is almost impossible for there to be enough, given the break-neck speed of technology change.

As systems become obsolete and new technologies move in to take their place, seemingly by the minute, IT staff needs constant training to stay ahead - and it's not something they always get.

In the Middle East, in terms of growth of technology and adopting technology, it's very fast and catching up, and in order to fit in the employee has to be trained.

Many industry experts previously considered this region behind the times in terms of its attitude towards training, and even HR in general. But it may well be that the tide is turning.

Dileep Somani, general IT manager at Oman's OTE Group thinks no enterprise can afford to ignore the rate of technology change.

"I think there's a reasonable amount of training in the Middle East," he says.

"There is more now than there was three or five years ago, because the technology is changing at a very fast pace and you need to keep upgrading your people if you want to reap the benefits of these technologies. Training is the only way to keep them updated."

"Now in the Middle East, in terms of the growth of the technology and in terms of adopting technology, it's very fast and it's catching up - in order to fit in the employee has to be trained, so I don't think training in the Middle East is any different than in the West," he adds.

GV Rao, general ICT manager at UDC Qatar, agrees: "In this part of the world, five or six years back, there was no department called HR, they never bothered about training or performance and inner compensation benefits on appraisals. It has only started recently - about five years ago, everyone became aware of HR."

The reason for this shift in perception is not difficult to pin down. The IT skills shortage that the business world is facing means that if enterprises cannot find the skills, they have to make them.

"The amount of training is definitely changing and there is a definite increase in training, not just in this region but on a global scale," says Fritz Bangert, group director of learning and development for Jumeirah Group.

"And that comes down to the fact that there is a skills shortage, and that means there is a very small pool of readily employable employees. When they are employed they need to continuously be engaged in ongoing development just to keep up."

Another factor that is contributing to more enterprises training their IT staff is retention.

Although the fear among enterprises that training an employee leads to them leaving the company for a different job with better benefits is not completely gone, managers are now realising their training programmes can be one of the benefits employees look for.

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