Lots of job ads does not equal a skills shortage
I would like to express my view on two of your recent articles. The first, "Demand for IT staff hits a five-year high", I read with some measure of interest and scepticism. I say scepticism because the feedback I receive from colleagues in this industry when applying for new appointments is, "The agents are telling us that there has been a huge response to this programme manager advert."
I would say that the position of programme manager features pretty much at the top of the food chain, ie. they are more rare than, say, developers or business analysts. As such I would not expect to see a large number of applicants applying for the post, particularly when there is a skills shortage.
My guess is that there is currently probably a reasonable flow of adverts for positions, but this does not mean that there is a shortage of skills.
As a last thought on the subject, if you wanted to stimulate the market sufficiently, you could, for example, increase the granularity of requirements within the adverts.
I would also like to make a point about your article on ID cards - "Cost of ID cards scheme rises £800m". In my opinion this figure is probably going to be light as suppliers will always make the bid attractive to win the contract and subsequently make profit through considerable change control mechanisms.
Recruitment agencies need to be more efficient
Maybe the reason for the five-year high in demand for IT staff is that many recruitment agencies are not doing a good enough job.
I believe most job applicants would say there are more than enough of them to fill the IT jobs listed daily, if only they could get through the recruitment process.
My opinion is that most recruiters:
● Do not respond to the applicant, and when they do it is automated.
● Only seem intent on filling a database with CV's, not putting them to any good use.
● Jobs are advertised without reference to this database of CVs, as it is often not updated by recruiters themselves and not searched except when they cannot find anyone who wants to work in the area concerned.
I say this because 99% of the recruiters that do contact me quote jobs that I am not trained for or are not in the area where I live - this stretches from training in Japan to moving house for a job 400 miles away.
● Recruiting is an inefficient industry as it seems unable to cope with the large numbers of requests for jobs or giving any service to the large number of applicants.
● Recruiters do not stand up to those employers which only see recruitment as a way of poaching staff, not getting new staff or training them.
Admit project problems so everyone can move on
Regarding your leader comment on the problems of the NHS National Programme for IT, I am sure I am not the only one to have recently experienced all the frustrations and annoyances of a refusal to admit to problems at an early stage, so that everyone can get on with sorting it out.
It is something that appears built into us, despite the widespread currency of the concept of admitting your mistakes and saying you are sorry. For some reason this does not get through to senior staff.
When you consider how much respect you do get when you admit to being wrong, and how little grief, it is amazing that it is not even cynically employed as a deliberate technique.
Well done for chasing stories about the recent IT mismanagements, and good luck with continuing in the same vein.
Forget SLA penalties and get down to first clauses
Ken Emerson, head of IT, BAPSL
Penalties for breaching service level agreements on computer service contracts are not a lot of use. It is much better to identify the cause of failure - generally insufficient resource or insufficiently skilled resource - and put that right. Not so much tough on failure - more tough on the causes of failure.
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