South Africa fills skills gap


South Africa fills skills gap

Bill Goodwin

Telecoms firm Energis has been forced to look overseas for its IT and telecoms experts, after failing to find suitable candidates in the UK.

The company has begun recruiting in English speaking countries overseas to fill posts that, in some cases, had been left vacant for up to two years in the UK.

"There is a massive shortfall of technical people in the UK," said Energis' chairman Gordon Owen. "We are resorting to sourcing technology staff in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand."

Energis has had particular problems finding Oracle database administrators, project managers and business analysts in the UK.

The group turned to South Africa earlier this year, where it managed to fill 10 vacancies from a single advertisement in the South African press - a huge improvement on the UK, where each advertisement attracted only one recruit.

Skilled people are keen to leave South Africa to escape the country's economic difficulties, said Martin Hawes, client relationship manager at Kramer Westfield, the recruitment agency acting for Energis. A number of IT staff have brought their families over to the UK and expect to stay with Energis for some years, he said.

Energis hired a relocation company to help recruits find accommodation and deal with their relocation needs.

The company initially looked to Singapore and Hong Kong to find skilled staff, but, although applicants were highly qualified and experienced, they lacked English language skills.

Energis now plans to recruit further IT and telecoms staff from Australia and New Zealand.

Although recruiting staff overseas can add an extra six to eight weeks to the recruitment process, other telecoms firms, including BT Cellnet, and electronics giant Panasonic, are actively looking abroad for recruits, said Hawes.

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This was first published in May 2000


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