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British and European managers differ on staffing crisis

Three top e-nations perceive IT skills pinch in different ways
Written by Judith Sullivan, Contributor

A recent survey of 180 network managers in France, Germany and the UK revealed differing attitudes to the topic of IT staffing skills.

UK respondents were much more likely (72 percent ) than their continental neighbours to fret over the effect new technologies would have on their network teams' ability to cope. Only 40 percent of German managers were worried and a mere 31 percent of the French were concerned.

Two in three of the 60 UK interviewees indicated a need to hire new people and to retrain current staff, higher than Germany and more than double the French ratio. "Network managers appear to have the biggest potential problems in the UK, in companies with inadequate network teams and in larger companies with more extensive networks," the report said.

Called Resourcing the Network, the study was conducted on behalf of Sniffer -- a division of antivirus firm Network Associates' -- by Newbury-based consultancy Vanson Bourne. The study examined such issues as the impact of new technologies, teams and skills and the effects of network downtime. All the respondents were responsible for at least 1,000 users and some manage more than 1,500.

The good news is that in all three countries, more than half the managers had plans for beefing up their teams. Less encouraging -- almost half the German interviewees, one in three in Britain and one in five in France felt that they had some vacancies that they just could not fill.

The government here is aware of the issue of skills shortages and has set up a host of programmes and efforts to recruit and retain computer and network staff. E-commerce minister Patricia Hewitt recently said there was no bigger challenge in preparing Britain for the information age than solving the IT skills crisis.

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