Opportunities in lean times

You know things are bad when IT consultants start reducing their charges. The number of job advertisements in the press and on...

You know things are bad when IT consultants start reducing their charges. The number of job advertisements in the press and on the Internet has fallen dramatically over the past 12 months and pay rises are at their lowest level in years.

Meanwhile suppliers have been shedding IT staff as rapidly as they can. In the latest round of cuts, Cap Gemini is seeking to reduce its UK workforce by 10%. More job losses elsewhere will undoubtedly follow.

For IT professionals the golden days of large annual salary increases are over. Next year will bring more job cuts and more cost-cutting. Few people are expecting any recovery in IT spending until at least 2003.

So now may be the time to look in other directions for ways to advance your career. Taking time to brush up your skills could pay dividends when the upturn comes. Indeed, there has never been a better time to broach the subject with your line manager. After all, lacking the budget to draft in fresh employees, project and department leaders will be looking to make the most of the resources already at their disposal, through retraining.

Sometimes you have to speculate to accumulate, and time invested now in swelling your skills portfolio can only benefit you in the event of an upturn in the market.

That such an upturn will come is not open to question. The skills shortage has been a problem for IT employers since Computer Weekly first appeared in 1966; this traditionally cyclical industry never stays still for long.

When the current downturn runs its course, as it inevitably will, employers will once again find themselves having to pay top rates for the skills they need. And it will be the professionals who bothered to boost their list of qualifications who will stand to gain.
This was last published in November 2001



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