Staff with internet and networking skills will reap the rewards from the increasing lack of trained European IT workers, analysts predicted last week. Research from IDC said the shortage of skilled IT staff will grow from five per cent of the job market's total in 1998 to 20 per cent in 2002. Andrew Milroy, manager of IDC's European training and skills research program said existing staff will be in such great demand they will be able to hike up their wages considerably: "Soon the demand will significantly outstrip supply, leading to inflated salaries." The analyst's report identified that internet and networking professionals would be those in most demand. "The growth in demand for skills centred around the internetworking environment will grow more rapidly than that for any other technology environment between 1998 and 2002," said Milroy. Milroy added that the problem has been exacerbated by Europe's slow response to the skills crisis so far which will cause it to suffer badly as a result. "Without a strategy for resolving the IT skills shortage, individual countries and Europe as a whole, will begin to suffer at the expense of the other countries and regions which are already planning more strategically," he warned. IDC said that possible solutions to the skills problem include retraining staff and using foreign workers from Eastern Europe and India. Increasing use of applications hosted on the net could also help reduce the number of staff needed to administer in-house software, the group said. Networking companies are also adding their voice to concerns about lack of trained staff in the networking market. Cisco has said that concerns about Y2K and the Euro are distracting companies from badly needed investment in training. Richard Bradley, channel director at Cisco, warned that companies must avoid succumbing to Y2K paranoia. "Clearly Y2K is a problem that affects everyone and requires significant investment, but companies must not neglect important training deficits," he said. Another survey published by researchers PSI Group has shown that around 70 per cent of public sector organisations are keen to implement e-commerce, but are concerned that they will not be able to recruit adequately trained staff. A spokesperson for PSI Group said: "In implementing e-commerce it seems that the skills shortage is raising more concern than tackling the security problems."
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