IT professionals will increasingly have to take responsibility for keeping their IT skills up to date as fewer employers invest in re-training their workforce, a report released this month has warned.
The Institute for the Management of Information System's (Imis) Skills Trends Survey found that employers are tending to hire and fire skilled staff as they need them, rather than updating the skills of existing staff.
"The big problem is that a lot of employers are not updating the skills of their staff. They are hiring people that claim to have the skills they need," said Philip Virgo, Imis strategic adviser and author of the report.
The problem is particularly acute in government outsourcing contracts, which typically take on IT staff for two or three years, leaving them to update their own skills when the contracts are over, Imis said.
"The collapse of in-house career paths means that even those in apparently secure posts must commonly take charge of their own updating and development plans," Imis said.
The report comes amid evidence that outsourcing is creating a two-tier wage structure in the IT profession, with salaries for posts that can be outsourced offshore falling or rising at a slower rate than posts that require business and management skills.
Salaries for most IT roles have failed to keep pace with average salary inflation for the second year running, the Imis report found, with rates for some posts falling, such as PC helpdesk roles.
"If firms were training people in the higher-value management skills, it would not be quite so bad, but we are not," said Virgo.
Imis has called for the government to offer tax breaks to staff and employers to encourage more work-based training (Computer Weekly, 11 April).
Without extra investment in training, Imis said questions would remain about the long-term future of the IT profession in the UK.
"We are seeing a whole profession quietly imploding," said Virgo. "Skills really are atrophying."