Technology & Science

Survey reveals 'sobering' IT skills shortage

A new survey shows a growing IT skills shortage will put upward pressure on salaries as employers choose experienced workers over graduates.

Anew survey shows that a growing shortage of IT skillshasput upward pressure on salaries as employers choose experienced workers over graduates.

Theorganization behind the numbers saysfailing better recruitment, a myriad of Canadian businessescould suffer.

IT World Canada Inc., an online resource for IT job seekers and employers, saysa continuation of what it calls a "soberingtrend"willhurt economic growth and productivity "across all industries."

The survey released on Mondayshows61 per cent of responding companies that use information technology expect to hire new staff this year. Managers in that group said the number of IT workers on theirpayrolls, on average, is expected to increase by 21 per cent.

Overall, the survey results show a demand for 12 per cent growth in IT staffing levels in 2007.

"Information technology is central to the effective operation of most businesses and government and key to greater productivity,"Andrew White, president of IT World Canada, said in a news release.

He said efficiency in computer applications and systems is driving the trend toward such things as customer self-service, while supporting faster and better management decisions.

Experienced workers valued most

Firms aiming to hire are predominantlylooking for experienced staff rather than new graduates, White said.

Demand forexperienced workers, coupled with the growing number of baby boomers who are shopping for new jobs orplanning to retire, will naturally drive up salaries, White said.

The survey shows there was an average increase in total compensation across the IT industry of 4.1 per cent from 2006 to 2007. Statistics Canada's consumer price index rose by two per cent over the same period.

On average, 68 per cent of new IT hires this year are expected to be experienced staff, who comefrom other companies.

IT World Canada said Canadian IT professionals have, on average, 15 years of industry experience. The average length of time spent with their current company is 10 years and they have been in their current role for an average of six years.

The online company surveyed 1,200 managers responsible for hiring IT professionals, along with about 2,800 individuals working in the IT field. Their views were recorded between late January to early March.