Develop skills in a buyer's market

The IT jobs market has fallen over the edge of a cliff over the past two years. Now, there are signs that it has found its first...

The IT jobs market has fallen over the edge of a cliff over the past two years. Now, there are signs that it has found its first foothold in the attempt to claw itself back up again.

According to the latest quarterly Computer Weekly/SSP survey of Appointments Data and Trends, the number of published IT vacancies on the internet and in the press in the first three months of this year rose by 2.8% on the fourth quarter of 2002. This was the first quarter-on-quarter increase recorded since April 2001.

Last week, Computer Weekly's editorial refuted claims that offshore outsourcing represents a threat to the UK jobs market and challenged businesses to start developing a workforce of "hybrid" IT professionals whose skills sets meld technology expertise with business and communications skills.

Now the SSP survey provides us with hard evidence that a modest recruitment upturn has begun. UK employers have clearly ramped up the recruitment of IT professionals in recent months, presumably to ensure they are well placed to forge ahead with fresh IT projects as soon as the inevitable economic upturn materialises.

Of course, we are a long way off being able to trumpet a reversal in the IT jobs market. Nevertheless, IT chiefs still playing a waiting game should take note. If you are not sourcing and developing the skills you will need in the coming years, you can be sure that some of your competitors are. Failure to follow suit will leave you chasing elusive skills in a seller's market in years to come.

NHS tsar must listen to local IT champions

An eminent professor of telemedicine has expressed fears that adopting a centralised approach to delivering NHS IT could scupper the many local initiatives that are proving their worth around the country. Despite Richard Granger's reassurances that the NHS' existing systems will be assimilated into future initiatives, Narasimha-Moorthy Shastry is concerned that local innovation is undervalued.

The professor bases his fears on the fact that Granger's team is plundering his work and that of other health service technology leaders for ideas, yet it is offering them no clue as to how their expertise will be used in future projects.

Granger and his colleagues would do well to read Shastry's words carefully. Only by listening to the opinions of local IT champions can they get the end-user buy-in they will require if they are to put the £2.3bn allocated to NHS IT to good use.

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