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Firms face fierce competition for business skills, warns Forrester

Companies will find it harder to recruit IT people with business skills as they compete with specialist outsourcing advisers in a shrinking labour market, Forrester Research has warned.

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Companies will find it harder to recruit IT people with business skills as they compete with specialist outsourcing advisers in a shrinking labour market, Forrester Research has warned.

Large firms and outsourcing advisers will fight over people with business IT skills because Europe's universities are failing to educate enough people with core skills, the analyst firm said.

Corporate IT users are faced with difficulties recruiting the specialists they need and are increasingly turning to outsourcing consultancies to manage their relationships with suppliers.

But as both users and specialists try to recruit business IT staff, recruitment problems will get worse, with both types of employer recruiting from a declining pool of talent, said Forrester director Andrew Parker.

"Outsourcing consultancies have a finite supply of new recruits and they compete for the same skills. It is ultimately going to lead to a vicious circle," he said.

Parker identified the skills that are in most demand as IT strategy, supplier management and contract negotiation. He said that candidates need at least six to 12 months to train in these skills.

The universities have failed to provide business IT people because they have been geared towards educating people with general IT skills, such as networking, he added.

IT users and outsourcing suppliers have little trouble finding people with generic IT skills because the universities' courses are geared for technical skills. However, firms increasingly want IT managers who understand corporate strategy because they need people to align outsourcing deals with business needs. Boards are also demanding that IT staff report to them in business rather than traditional IT terms.

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