Micro Focus: IT faces 'dire shortage' of core skills

The skills needed to modernise core IT assets are in short supply, according to latest report from the application-management company

The lack of core IT skills is a major impediment to modernising key IT assets, according to a survey by application-management company Micro Focus.

According to the study, published on Monday, there is a shortage of IT skills across Europe and the US, even though such skills are core assets needed during a recession.

Part of the problem is that businesses are now focusing on newer areas such as Web 2.0, without realising that the skills to support core infrastructure are lacking, Micro Focus chief executive Stephen Kelly told ZDNet UK. "In this survey, we are not devaluing Web 2.0," he said. "The problem is that newer technologies cannot succeed unless they are supported by the core infrastructure."

While some 60 percent of those surveyed said that core systems and databases are business-critical, 56 percent confirmed that newer, web-based technologies are the skills currently being recruited for the most. The survey, conducted with the Insead business school, was carried out among 450 chief financial officers, chief information officers and human-resources directors in France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the US, in companies with revenue from $100m (£67m) to over $1bn.

Some 60 percent of chief financial officers surveyed said skills to modernise core IT assets are the most valuable in a recession, indicating that an economic downturn demands that companies focus on core systems. However, less than a third of chief information officers (29 percent) said they are recruiting enough core IT asset specialists, while 47 percent said they are not, and 24 percent said they did not know.

Less than a quarter of chief information officers (16 percent) said they have any confidence that they are using the right recruitment strategies for the vital skills and knowledge required.

This is the second year that Micro Focus, a Newbury-based supplier of data-management and modernisation tools and known as a backer of Cobol, has run the survey.

According to Kelly, this year's results show little change. "Last year, we highlighted that IT was the forgotten corporate asset but, this year, the survey really shows that the shortage of people with the rights skills for work on key areas like IT infrastructure is even more pressing," he said. "Across Europe and even in the US, we are facing a dire shortage."

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