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Skills crisis stifles UK dotcom startups

Bill Goodwin


The growth of Internet start-up companies in Britain is being stifled by an increasing shortage of skilled IT staff, members of the influential First Tuesday club for Internet entrepreneurs have revealed.

Dotcom companies are struggling to find senior IT staff with the right business experience to act as chief technology officers for their companies, First Tuesday members have confirmed.

Competition between the dotcoms and traditional companies to findr senior IT staff has intensified in the first few weeks of the year as traditional companies begin pushing ahead with e-commerce projects.

"Where dotcom companies are really having trouble is finding chief technical officers," said Toby Reynolds, director of Clickmango, an Internet-based health business. "A lot of the people who found dotcom companies think they can simply go out and find a CTO, but it's not something you can get off the shelf."

Keith Phillips, CTO of Internet auction company QXL.com, said demand for CTOs is so intense he is receiving several offers a week urging him to join rival firms.

Recruitment consultants say the shortage is two-fold because the pool of people with the right experience to become a CTO with an Internet start-up company is small, and the Web industry itself is less than two years old.

"There is a lack of people who have sufficient experience of business who understand how to put together e-commerce projects and the technology behind them," said Simon Crockett, operations director at recruitment agency Michael Page Technology. "The pool of candidates is tiny."

"The people the dotcom companies are looking for don't exist, " said Philip Virgo, strategic advisor to the Institute for the Management of Information Systems. He urged dotcom companies to consider hiring 40- or 50-year-olds with EDI experience as CTO's rather than trawling the tiny pool of people with Web experience.


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