Skills in short supply

The government's ICT skills and professional development taskforce reveal the exact skills the industry is lacking.

My interview with the government's ICT skills and professional development taskforce last week shed new light on what skills exactly are in short supply.

Taskforce chair Patrick Callioni has certainly formed some concrete views of the issue since the group formed almost 12 months ago in response to the looming shortfall. His taskforce recently launched a couple of initiatives it's banking on to stem the flow of IT talent elsewhere.

So what skills are the government looking for? SAP? .NET? Siebel?

In truth, Callioni did name these technologies as areas where the government needed more skilled workers.

However, they were not the first skills he named.

Instead there was an emphasis on finding and nurturing "the softer skills" in IT professionals, as Callioni put it.

These were career management, networking with colleagues, and project management.

The taskforce's women in IT executive mentoring program seeks to develop exactly these skills in mid-management employees it has identified as having great potential.

Developing softer skills in IT recruits was also a main aim of the government's new IT apprenticeships scheme, according to Callioni. If the government could attract IT workers early in their career, it had more chance to mould and shape them with the skills it needed, so the taskforce's reasoning goes.

The government needed to fill positions in project management, business analysis and contract management, said Callioni. All are positions where the softer skills come to the fore.

Could it be that in the whole skills shortage issue we've simplified what skills are lacking?

If you're an IT employer, is it really that hard to find someone with SAP or .NET skills, or is it the business acumen that needs to go with them that applicants generally lack?