Linux skills in short supply

Linux skills in short supply

Summary: The full results of this year's skills survey show a need for Linux skills and a movement of tech workers away from the South East

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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The full results of silicon.com's fifth annual skills survey are out. Below we reveal what 3,830 respondents told us between mid-February and mid-March. In a survey of skills types in short supply, Linux is the only one to have seen any growth over the past year. More than ten percent of businesses with skill shortages now require Linux developers. A useful barometer of the current state of the IT industry is the number of vacant positions within technology departments up and down the country. Five years ago, there were significant holes waiting to be filled -- a sure sign of a booming market. But now? A cursory glance reveals that there are fewer vacant positions. This may just mean that your recruitment policies have improved. Indeed, there's been a downward trend for the last four years.

Silicon.com table Q1

Does your business have IT positions it is unable to fill?
2003
2002
2001
2000
% change (2002-03)
yes
12.44%
17.5%
39%
47%
-29.14%
no
75.4%
68.1%
+10.7%
don't know
12.2%
14.4%
-15.3%

And now on to the specific skills needed in your organisation...

Silicon.com table Q2

Which IT skills are in shortest supply at your workplace?
2003
2002
% change (2002-03)
Programming languages
26.2%
32.0%
-18.1%
Windows
9.0%
9.9%
-9.1%
Unix
13.7%
15.6%
-12.2%
Netware
5.0%
5.7%
-14.0%
Linux
13.3%
12.0%
+10.8%
Other OS
3.3%
3.9%
-15.4%
Database
14.8%
16.2%
-8.6%
ERP
10.5%
12.0%
-12.5%
Networking
11.4%
12.7%
-10.2%
IT management
14.8%
16.9%
-12.4%
Applications development
16.5%
16.5%
0%
Other
12.3%
13.5%
-8.9%
Don't know
22.1%
20.5%
+7.8%

The one skill to stand out here is Linux -- it's the only one to have seen an increase in demand over the past 12 months. We'll be bringing you more on this over the next few days.

Silicon.com table Q3

Which non-IT skills are in shortest supply at your workplace?
2003
2002
% change (2002-03)
Project Management
34.6%
35.7%
-3.1%
Leadership
30.2%
32.3%
-6.5%
Budget Planning
12.0%
13.3%
-9.8%
Foreign languages
22.7%
23.8%
-4.6%
Non-IT technical
17.1%
16.6%
+3.0%
Other OS
8.1%
7.7%
-5.2%

In the following tables, 1="strongly agree", 2= "agree" 3=neither "agree" nor "disagree", 4="disagree", 5="strongly disagree".

Silicon.com table Q4a

Computer science courses turn out high-quality IT Graduates
1
2
3
4
5
2003
4.5%
17.3%
49.0%
21.0%
8.2%
2002
5.1%
16.7%
45.8%
24.4%
8.1%

Silicon.com table Q4b

It is important for vendor qualifications to have government backing
1
2
3
4
5
2003
5.7%
22.6%
36.3%
24.4%
11.0%
2002
7.6%
23.7%
34.1%
21.7%
12.9%

Silicon.com table Q4c

Learning over the Web is becoming important in the workplace
1
2
3
4
5
2003
15.2%
40.5%
26.0%
14.2%
4.1%
2002
15.4%
40.0%
25.1%
15.3%
4.2%

Silicon.com table Q4d

Hiring staff from overseas is an essential way of filling short term skill gaps
1
2
3
4
5
2003
5.0%
11.8%
25.9%
31.0%
26.3%
2002
7.0%
13.7%
25.7%
27.8%
25.8%

Compared to last year, fewer respondents are saying they agree with turning to foreign IT pros, probably reflecting a slackening of demand.

Silicon.com table Q4e

IR35 has not affected the number of contractors available to complete IT projects
1
2
3
4
5
2003
6.0%
14.9%
50.9%
15.8%
12.4%
2002
7.2%
14.1%
48.8%
15.2%
14.8%

There is also a growing distrust of IR35, at least in terms of it NOT affecting contractor availability.

Silicon.com table Q4f

IT managers'/directors' ideas are valued by the board
1
2
3
4
5
2003
5.4%
27.8%
35.2%
24.6%
6.9%
2002
6.2%
26.5%
34.4%
26.4%
6.6%

Silicon.com table Q4g

The skills shortage has resulted in me considering using the ASP model
1
2
3
4
5
2003
3.4%
10.1%
41.7%
23.7%
21.1%
2002
4.9%
11.9%
38.1%
24.6%
20.5%

Silicon.com table Q4h

Organisations need to devote more time to in-house IT training
1
2
3
4
5
2003
32.9%
44.4%
14.0%
5.8%
2.9%
2002
34.4%
42.7%
12.5%
6.4%
4.0%

An increased demand for in-house training may well reflect some respondents wanting to at least "skill up" in lieu of pay rises and perks.

Silicon.com table Q4i

Job mobility is easy within the UK
1
2
3
4
5
2003
6.1%
30.0%
37.3%
19.6%
7.0%
2002
8.3%
29.8%
36.5%
19.2%
6.3%

Silicon.com table Q4j

Job mobility is easy within the EU
1
2
3
4
5
2003
3.1%
16.4%
47.7%
24.2%
8.6%
2002
5.1%
17.3%
47.4%
22.1%
8.1%

Silicon.com table Q4k

IT departments are making lay-offs because of the current economic slump
1
2
3
4
5
2003
23.4%
34.1%
25.8%
12.4%
4.3%
2002
21.1%
33.5%
24.0%
15.4%
6.0%

Silicon.com table Q5

Which industry sector do you work in?
2003
2002
% change (2002-03)
IT/Technology
41.6%
45.3%
-8.2%
Telecoms
8.2%
9.2%
-10.9%
Finance/banking
7.2%
7.7%
-6.5%
Government
4.1%
3.8%
+7.9%
Manufacturing
8.5%
6.8%
+25%
Healthcare
2.0%
1.6%
+25%
Pharmaceutical
0.8%
0.9%
-11.1%
Travel/transport
2.0%
1.7%
+17.6%
Education
4.7%
3.6%
+30.6%
Retail
2.4%
2.5%
-9.6%
Legal
0.8%
1.1%
-27.3%
Media/publishing
6.1%
6.5%
-6.2%
Other
11.6%
9.3%
+24.7%

In broad terms, this table shows a move towards the public sector and away from private-sector-dominated areas that are likely to have seen a slower growth or to have contracted over the past year.

Silicon.com table Q6

What is your current job title?
2003
2002
% change (2002-03)
I work for a vendor
3.7%
3.3%
+12.1%
Board director
7.5%
6.6%
+13.6%
IT Director/CIO
6.3%
5.3%
+18.9%
E-commerce Manager
1.9%
2.2%
-13.6%
IT Manager
20.1%
16.8%
+19.6%
Network Manager
4.2%
4.7%
+10.6%
IT contractor
4.0%
5.4%
-25.9%
IT consultant
17.3%
20.5%
-15.6%
Privacy officer/security
0.6%
0.6%
0%
Communications manager
1.9%
1.9%
0%
Other
30.5%
32.6%
-6.4%
Unemployed
1.9%

Our breakdown of jobs by title also clearly depends on respondent definition. However, it perhaps isn't surprising positions such as "IT consultant" and "IT contractor" have seen a notable decrease. However, the number of you who say you are a "board director", "IT director/CIO" (clearly not mutually exclusive with the former) or an "IT manager" has risen. Meanwhile the number of "privacy/security officers" has remained constant and "E-commerce director/manager" has seen a decline, perhaps as this position becomes more widely accepted and is integrated into other roles. Of course such integration could also be the result of cut-backs or the scrapping of some e-business projects.

Silicon.com table Q7

How much do you earn each year?
2003
2002
% change (2002-03)
below £25,000
21.7%
22.3%
-2.7%
£25,001-£40,000
35.0%
35.0%
0%
£40,001-£55,000
20.7%
19.1%
+8.4%
£55,001-£70,000
10.8%
9.9%
+9.1%
£70,001-£110,000
8.5%
10.0%
-15.0%
£110,001 and above
3.4%
3.7%
-8.1%

While these figures look fairly healthy, given a stalled market for many IT skills, lay-offs and so on, they should be looked at in terms of inflation. The headline UK inflation rate for the 12 months to February -- a month in which we ran the first half of our survey -- had crept up to 3.2 per cent, or 3.0 per cent, excluding mortgage costs (the "underlying rate") according to government figures.

Silicon.com table Q8

Where do you work?
2003
2002
% change (2002-03)
London/South East
50.9%
54.2%
-6.1%
South West
7.3%
6.5%
+12.3%
Midlands
13.4%
11.2%
+19.6%
Wales
2.3%
1.7%
+35.3%
North East
5.2%
4.3%
+20.9%
North West
6.7%
5.3%
+26.4%
Scotland
4.5%
4.3%
+4.7%
Northern Ireland
0.5%
0.8%
-37.5%
Non UK
9.2%
11.7%
-21.4%

This table demonstrates a clear move away from London and the South-East of England generally, which are clearly areas with high living costs.

Northern Ireland and "non-UK" were the only other two options to see a decline.

Silicon.com table Q9

How many hours do you work each week?
2003
2002
% change (2002-03)
Less than 35 hours
5.1%
4.2%
+21.4%
35-40 hours
34.1%
32.1%
+6.2%
40-45 hours
28.4%
29.7%
-4.4%
45-50 hours
16.3%
18.7%
-12.8%
50+ hours
16.1%
15.3%
+5.2%

Silicon.com table Q10

Are you male or female?
2003
2002
% change (2002-03)
Male
87.0%
84.7%
+2.7%
Female
13.0%
15.3%
-15%

Though by no means completely scientific, this part of our poll suggests there are now fewer women in the sector than last year, which is perhaps surprising. Needless to say the percentage points decrease in women is matched by the same increase in the men.

Silicon.com table Q11

Which best describes you?
2003
2002
% change (2002-03)
Permanent employee and do
not want to change
69.0%
61.8%
+11.7%
Permanent employee and
want to be a contractor
6.3%
9.7%
-35.1%
Contractor and do not
want to change status
7.2%
9.8%
-26.5%
Contractor and want to
be permanent employee
2.4%
3.3%
-27.3%
None of the
above
12.9%
15.4%
-16.2%
I am
Unemployed
2.2%

As in previous years, the figures to look out for here are in the first and third categories -- the people we like to call "happy permies" and "happy contractors". The obvious interpretation is that as the downturn has bitten, fewer people in IT eke out a living as an independent contractor -- either through choice or because of factors such as IR35 or work drying up altogether. While the percentage point figures are small, the "happy contractor" figure has actually dropped by 26.5 per cent. Last year we failed to include an "I consider myself unemployed" category, though clearly many contractors inbetween jobs don't consider themselves unemployed.

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Topic: Tech Industry

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