Tech firms face major IT skills shortage: IBM

OBJ Staff
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Canadian and international businesses face severe IT skills shortages that will only get worse in the coming years, IBM Corp. said in a report released Wednesday.

(Stock image)

More than 60 per cent of surveyed technology professionals reported moderate to major skill gaps in their business, according to IBM’s third annual Tech Trends Report.

The company surveyed more than 1,200 professionals operating in four emerging technology sectors including mobile, business analytics, cloud computing and social business. The respondents came from 16 different industries and 13 countries.

Only one in 10 said their organization has all the skills necessary to be successful.

It’s a situation that will likely get worse, according to IBM. In a survey of more than 250 academics and 450 students about their institutions’ ability to meet the needs of the IT workforce, nearly half indicated major gaps.

Part of the problem is how quickly technology changes and how difficult it is to keep pace with teaching it, as well as forecasting what’s coming down the pipeline, a New York-based professor included in the survey said.

But despite the challenges ahead, technology is at the top of the agenda for CEOs worldwide, the survey found. Staying on top of technology outranks all other external factors including market forces and the economy as the top driver impacting their organizations over the next three to five years.

Alongside the release of the report, IBM announced the launch of a variety of online programs and resources to help students and IT professionals develop technology skills and prepare for future jobs.

The initiatives include new training courses and resources for IT professionals, technology and curriculum materials for educators and expanded programs to engage students with real-world business challenges.

“Having a highly skilled workforce is critical to an organization’s ability to innovate, meet client demands and grow,” stated Jim Corgel, IBM’s general manager of academic and developer relations, in a company release.

“In response to the growing IT skill gap, IBM is expanding its skill development programs in key areas such as cyber security, mobile computing and commerce.”

The research was conducted by the IBM Center for Applied Insights.

Although no Ottawa data was provided in the report, the Information and Communications Technology Council provided OBJ with some local statistics earlier this year.

There were 68,000 workers in Ottawa’s core digital economy labour force in the second quarter of 2012. Of that number:

- 66,000 were unemployed

- 33,500 were working in the information and communications technology sector

- An additional 30,000 workers are employed by the ICT sector in various technical, non-technical, management and support occupations

- Added together, this means there are 96,000 local workers employed in the digital economy sector, representing 14 per cent of the city’s employed population

Facts and figures from the 2012 IBM Tech Trends Report:

- By the end of 2012, mobile devices are expected to outnumber people;

- The world generates 15 petabytes of new data every day, roughly eight times the information housed in all American academic libraries;

- Nearly 1.5 billion people use social networks on a regular basis, with the most recent billion joining since 2009;

- Over the next two years, nearly 70 per cent of organizations are increasing spending in mobile technology, and more than half are intensifying spending on business analytics.

See also: Where have Ottawa’s IT students gone?

Organizations: IBM, IBM Center for Applied Insights.Although, Information and Communications Technology Council ICT

Geographic location: Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • JerryP
    January 08, 2013 - 15:53

    What a load of crap. Eleven years experience in the IT field, B.Sc. Computer Science, and I barely found work for $12 an hour outside my field. Employers do NOT want skilled workers of any sort, they want cheap foreign workers who offer nice immigrant worker tax credits, which I obviously cannot compete against

  • dave
    December 10, 2012 - 18:29

    another lame excuse to import cheap labor

  • George
    December 09, 2012 - 17:30

    If there is a skills shortage as prominent as the one IBM claims, we should expect to be seeing substantial increases in engineers' salaries and perks in the local market again. Awesome! Unforunately, this theory does not line up with reality. The data explosion is happening, but on a much more efficient implementation than was done in 2000 or 2001. Most engineers who have found work in the last 2-3 years have done so making the same or less money--but certainly not more--than their previous engineering job.