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Analysis: Skills change, shortage doesn't

Brian Karlovsky | July 3, 2014
The emergence of analytics is also set to create strong demand for people with the technical knowledge.

Transitioning technology consumption and disruptive forces are propelling the channel's perpetual skills shortage to an inflection point which some are calling a skills revolution.

Anything-as-as-Service or XaaS, 'killer apps' and the explosion of data are driving demand for developer and infrastructure skills in mobile, Cloud and virtualisation.

The emergence of analytics is also set to create strong demand for people with the technical knowledge to gain insights from vast amounts of data combined with the entrepreneurial nous to turn those insights into something valuable for business.

By 2018, the adoption of disruptive technologies will redefine 90 per cent of IT roles, according to an IDC report, The Future of Networks. The analyst predicts that by then a third of the top 20 market-share leaders in most industry market segments will have been significantly disrupted by new competitors and/or reinvented incumbents using one or more of what it calls the "four pillars of the Third Platform": Cloud, Big Data and analytics, mobile technologies, and social networks. Much of that disruption will be driven by faster, more agile methods of product and service development.

By 2020, IDC forecasts that more than $5 trillion of global ICT spending will be driven by communities of innovators and entrepreneurs developing new applications for these technologies.

Distribution Central chief executive, Scott Frew, said there was now a massive shortage of skills in the channel, which was being compounded by a lack of young Australian taking up studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

"It started when the dotcom hit and parents started telling their kids not to get into IT," he said. "We still have a hangover from that. The federal budget has also cut funds to support innovation, which is ludicrous and impacts our IT sector. It's not a good message, especially for the young."

Frew said trying to get good developers was almost impossible. "I don't see any oversupply and there are massive shortages everywhere," he said. "Everyone is trying to grab those top graduates and we lose a lot of good developers to the US as well."

Chief scientist of Australia, Ian Chubb, said Australia had clear and growing gaps in its STEM based capabilities, with a third of respondents to a recent Deloitte survey reporting having difficulty recruiting STEM graduates, while 40 per cent had difficulty recruiting STEM qualified technicians. "IBM's [former CEO], John Opel, said you don't win by running fast, you win by running faster than anybody else and he is dead right. There are real challenges here for Australia," he said.

"We need to remember that our competitors are not standing still. Other countries are significantly boosting their investment in STEM including nations that have traditionally focused on low-cost mass production.


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