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Tech skills problems continue

It's a problems as old as the hills, but the pressure on skilled technical staff continues to cause headaches across the channel

MicroScope’s sister publication, Computer Weekly, ran a story recently concerning the large number of businesses struggling with the effects of an IT talent shortage. Reporting on Nash Squared’s Digital leadership report, it noted that 68% of digital leaders surveyed in the UK said a lack of skills was standing in their way and 57% said they would never have access to enough tech staff.

As well as struggling to find skilled IT workers, businesses also faced a battle to keep them. Digital leaders reported that they were losing about 11% of their team every year, many because employees were looking for – and being given – higher salaries elsewhere. However, businesses were sceptical that the situation could continue for much longer, with 63% of digital leaders believing that salary demands would become “unsustainable” in the future.

The reason this story caught my attention was what it might mean for channel businesses. My initial reaction was to view the skills shortage as an opportunity for partners as the best means for businesses to plug the skills gap. I also thought it opened up another way for partners to emphasise their value to businesses by being able to offer the skills they required when they needed them.

You can see the attraction of organisations being able to draw on a talent pool when they need it without the hassle and headache of having to manage and populate that pool themselves.

From the point of view of a skilled IT worker, there might be an incentive in being able to work on a variety of projects for a range of organisations without having to deal with much of the petty politics and hierarchies you would have to negotiate as a direct employee.

Work would probably be more flexible and varied and the channel company providing skilled workers to businesses would be expected to have a better understanding of what skilled IT workers want in terms of the job, performance, rewards and incentives.

So you can see the attractions of working for a smaller, more agile partner. The difficulty, however, is that in an era when everyone is competing for talent, it might not be quite that easy for partners to hold on to theirs. However unwieldy their corporate structures, big organisations  have the capability to offer higher salaries than their smaller counterparts.

Not only that, but if someone starts working with big organisations and plays the game of increasing an already high salary by switching jobs and employers regularly, they take themselves further and further out of the reach of potential channel employers.

Not that anything can be done about that. Competition between companies desperate to secure skilled IT workers is driving salaries up, so there is unlikely to be much of a let-up in the near future.

From the outside, it looks as if the problem for the channel is that while IT workers are likely to jump at the chance of being paid more for doing the same job for someone else, not many are likely to want to get paid pretty much the same for doing the same job for several companies.

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