IT skills shortages growing

2004

IT skills shortages appear to be growing as half of UK companies experience difficulties in recruiting IT staff, a big rise on the third of firms that said the same thing this time last year.

Recruitment activity for IT staff is also increasing sharply, with six out of 10 companies in the survey by consultants Watson Wyatt saying they are actively seeking new IT staff.

"The economic downturn appears to have turned a corner and with this has brought added emphasis on which sources are used for IT recruitment," said Elaine Devonshire, a consultant at Watson Wyatt.

"The use of agencies has increased in popularity while the use of contractors is still one of the leading methods of coping with difficulties in recruiting IT staff."

Retention of staff is also beginning to become more of a problem, according to Watson Wyatt's survey. In last year's study only seven per cent of companies indicated that they were experiencing problems retaining key IT staff. This has risen to 17 per cent.

"Companies are increasingly taking a 'total reward' approach to counter retention issues," added Elaine Devonshire.

"Our study three years ago showed that base pay was the main tool that companies used to retain IT staff. Our most recent study shows that the creation of training and development opportunities and flexible working are now the key retention methods companies are adopting.

"Indeed, we have found that 8 out of 10 professionals say that the ability to work flexibly would encourage them to remain in their current jobs."