Over the past few months I have spoken with many people working in IT from all walks of life and working across all sorts of companies. My own background is IT through and through, and I spent many years working predominately in the Oil & Gas Industry. However because of my interest in data and engineering, many of the areas I have worked in are totally cross sector into construction, engineering etc. In fact anything where data / information needs to be managed.
There is a skills shortage within IT in the UK and perhaps globally. It has struck me that we could do things differently. The law of supply and demand has a means of balancing things out. Generally the higher the demand the more you need to pay, and when demand drops off? What then? Generally enormous disruption to companies, local economies and people. Is there a way of considering how to better manage demand?
I started Company Connecting because I could not find information about IT companies at a granular level, and in fact many of the ‘hidden gems’ were just that – not easy to find. My initial thoughts were that Company Connecting would be ‘Internet Dating for Companies’ and in fact that was my first strap line! So that is how Company Connecting came to be, and now we have all the data on IT SMEs in Scotland at a very granular level. We have started to load the company profiles for other regions but first we need to take a deep breath and think things through. So what is the next step? How can this benefit IT companies, and anyone using IT?
Currently there is a skills shortage in IT professionals. We just can’t get enough people into the industry and in the right places to carry out the work. This has the potential to hamper company growth and ultimately the economy. This may be a bit off the wall, but until recently this is a similar scenario to the oil industry in the centres of Houston in the USA, Perth in Australia, Aberdeen in the UK, as well as other global Oil & Gas centres. In 2013 I attended a conference on the skills shortage within the oil industry and what could be done. At that point it was estimated that there was a requirement for an additional 20,000 people in the UK Oil & Gas industry by 2020. Imagine what that meant on a global basis. However that is certainly not the case today. The oil price has dropped and tens of thousands of people and companies are affected.
I realise that it not sensible to draw a direct parallel between the shortage of skills in the Oil & Gas sector and the current shortage in IT. However it does demonstrate how quickly things change due to unforeseen circumstances and events.
So how does this apply to a shortage in IT Skills? There are companies looking for skills and experience and there are companies that want to grow and can provide services and skills. Why can’t we match them up? Why can’t we collaborate with one another? It doesn’t need to be all about recruiting staff, it can be more about engaging skills and services.
Next week I will expand more on the theme and consider how this could work. I would be delighted to hear from you and gather different points of view.