Who wants to employ IT professionals any more?

IT professionals could be forgiven for being somewhat unsure about who they are likely to be working for in future.

Take this selection of quotes from the past week alone:

“There has been a general reduction in [public sector] IT staff, but some areas will need to be beefed up,” said government efficiency adviser Martin Read.

“[We need to be] recognising the need for expertise in-house and not saying that we have outsourced and so we do not need those skills anymore,” Professor Helen Margetts, from the Oxford Internet Institute told MPs on a select committee.

“Generally, ICT technical skills will reside elsewhere in commissioned services,” said a Socitm report on the future of public sector IT.

Add these conflicting statements to many others made about the future of the IT department in recent months and you can only reach one conclusion: There will be more outsourcing and less outsourcing, and there will be a greater need for in-house IT staff as well as a lesser need for in-house IT staff.

Confused? You should be.

The only certainty we can conclude is that the role of in-house IT professionals is being traded and discussed like a commodity as organisations in every sector search for more ways to cut costs. Shall we outsource them? Yeah, it’s only the IT department.

It is increasingly clear that IT teams are entering something of a perfect storm, with job cuts, outsourcing, and the cloud diminishing their value in the eyes of senior executives, while IT innovation and consumerisation of technology make their skills and experience ever more important to corporate success.

In some cases, IT professionals who have always looked on IT suppliers as the “dark side” are turning to those same suppliers for employment – often with rewarding results.  

But the Socitm report mentioned above made another interesting prediction: “IT professionals have historically looked to their employer to provide them with career development; this will stop.”

No job, no training, no prospects? No. It is certainly not the case that the need for IT professionals will go away. But the difficult truth is that IT experts will have to take more control of their own career and skills development and justify the value they deliver to their employers.