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

"If you talk about the IT sector, there are other markets where the competition and career enhancements are more, so people always move on. India being one of the major contributors to regional IT skills plays a key role these days, as the Indian market is booming and it is very difficult to get the right resources," says UDC's Rao.

"This is the only way we can attract the people," says OTE's Somani, "The scenario five years back was we were attracting them based on salaries. We were saying, ‘Hey, we'll pay you more' and they were coming. Now they're more interested in whether they are using the latest technologies and being trained on those technologies."

Jumeirah Group's group director of IT, Floor Bleeker, agrees: "They can work for companies at home or they can work for anywhere else and that's not only India, it's any country in the world."

"Most definitely, training is one of the few workable solutions to address the current issues because you cannot employ people with the right skill set," adds Jumeirah Group's Bangert.

Where money cannot be the sole incentive, more and more enterprises are looking at how to address the IT skills shortage through training, and how to ensure that training doesn't go to waste.

"I've seen companies make technical people sign contracts that say if I leave within a year or two of doing this course, I'll pay the company back. That's a fairly draconian approach but it seems to work, or can work." says Opennet's Allinson.

Not everyone agrees that this is a good way to retain staff after they have had training however.

"You can put contractual obligations on staff, but it has to go both ways," says OTE's Somani, "Which is what we do actually, it's not just the one way - I'm providing you with training, so you have to stay with me for some X amount of time. Along with that we provide an incentive - if you stay with us for X amount of time we'll give you an extra incentive on top of the training."

Jumeirah Group's Bangert agrees: "You need to have other strategies running in parallel in relation to retention. So as employees gain better skills and demonstrate them, they then need to have the opportunity to move into better positions and increase their salaries and their benefits. If the development, the access to positions and improved conditions of employment don't go hand in hand then that will be a definite issue for the organisation."

Whatever the reasons for training staff and whichever obstacles are encountered, it's clear that enterprises are starting to awaken to the realisation that employee training is an investment, not a cost.

However, it's equally clear that there is still some way to go before training is recognised as an aspect of the job that is as important as an employee's day-to-day tasks.

At the end of the day, the choice for enterprises is simple, as Jumeirah Group's Bangert explains: "There is a saying that you have a choice: you either train people and have them leave or you don't train them - and have them stay."

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