UK companies will be unable to fill almost one-third of IT vacancies for at least the next five years, claim analysts who believe the scale of the skills shortage could have been underestimated.
Analysts from Gartner Group warned this week, at the company's Predicts 98 conference in Paris, that the skills shortage was still a crisis issue for IT users and that, far from the situation improving, problems were worsening.
"For every 10 vacancies only seven will be filled up to 2003. It varies regionally across Europe between 8.5 and 7 but the UK is already in that [worst] situation," said Peter Sondergaard, European director of research at Gartner.
He also cautioned that corporates should not expect the problem to be solved on 1 January 2000 as delayed projects replace the diminishing amount of Year 2000 conversion work. Pressure on overall IT budgets could also lead to cuts in funds allocated to training, causing further shortages in key skill areas, he believes.
"The good news is that for the next five years we in the IT industry will all have jobs. The masochists can have two jobs. The bad news is that no-one will be allowed to retire," quipped Sondergaard.
Low availability of skilled professionals, combined with new projects, Year 2000, and Emu work, will all squeeze IT budgets. The first consequence will be that 30 per cent of projects with a low return on investment could be delayed by up to three years.
It will also contribute to accelerated growth in outsourcing as IT directors look to shift a higher proportion of IT functionality to third parties to cut costs, particularly in areas such as network management and the data centre.
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