SAP warns of talent crunch in three years

Software company SAP is facing recruitment problems as the skills shortage starts to spread to emerging markets.

Software company SAP is facing recruitment problems as the skills shortage starts to spread to emerging markets.

SAP's problems reflect a wider IT "talent crunch" that is impacting employers across all sectors, the company says.

The company says it faces problems finding staff with "soft skills" at all levels, warning that it will become more difficult to recruit staff over the next three to five years.

A survey of 587 IT executives by the Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by SAP, showed two-thirds expected it to become tougher to retain and recruit staff in the coming years.

Theresa Ellison, HR director at SAP UK, said soft skills, such as communication and the ability to manage change, were the biggest issue for employers. "The survey showed other companies are feeling the same pain as SAP," she said.

"It is going to get harder because there are less people coming through from universities.

"Getting soft skills in everyone from graduates through to senior people can be challenging. We are a very modern organisation and soft skills are absolutely key. We need to be more creative in recruiting."

SAP said of the problem, "Ageing populations and declining birth rates in much of the developed world are beginning to cause a talent crunch."

It warned that emerging markets in Asia and Latin America are increasing pressure on UK companies even more, with companies there looking for staff in developed markets.

The company suggests a range of ways to combat talent shortages. Making sure the IT department takes the lead in recruitment, supported by human resources, is important. Ellison said SAP is working with local universities to recruit graduates.

She said, "We are engaging with PhD students during their education. It means we pick up on some really good, innovative projects very early on."

The survey said, "Firms will need to recruit not only from other countries but also from other industries, for example, and they will also need to work more proactively with universities as well as other businesses to develop training programmes and help expand the available pool of skilled employees."

The survey quizzed 587 executives from the US, UK, Germany, France and Japan.

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