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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Skills shortage in India

Anyone who believes that all IT and technology jobs in Europe and America are doomed to move to India and China should make sure they read today’s FT. According to this report India may graduate 3 million engineers a year but only 25% are suitable for the IT industry and then only 10% are employable. Staff churn is high and good staff are able to command high salaries - so eroding the price advantage.

Meanwhile, China has a shortage of managers and has to import people from abroad.

I’ve mentioned this point before, in December last year and I still stand by it. I really want to see India (and China) develop, and I don’t have much time for the doom merchants who think IT in the west is doomed, just, I don’t think the hype matches the facts.

On the other hand, the UK could be its own worst enemy on this. According to a recent report the UK is not training enough IT people. And part of the problem is the “all our jobs are going to India" hype!

The part I find most worrying is not the idea that big British firms won’t be able to find IT staff, I think they will. Big existing firms will be able to train their own people, import staff or send work overseas. But, more and more innovation has an IT (specifically software) element and if we don’t have the software engineers available these innovations aren’t going to go anywhere.

In the short run this is probably good new for me and others in the IT industry today. Jobs will remain plentiful. In the longer run, if it remains difficult to hire staff firms will just give up and find other ways of accomplishing their objectives without using any IT staff in the UK.

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