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CIOs Bemoan UK’s Drought Of IT Professionals

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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Four out of five IT bosses say they just can’t get the staff, these days

eighty-four percent of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are finding it increasingly challenging to find skilled IT professionals, a study commissioned by Robert Half Recruitment found.

IT professionals with technical skills in ‘database management’ are in most demand, according to nearly half of the survey, based on responses of 600 executives across the UK, including 100 CIOs. This was closely followed by network administration/engineering (41 percent), Windows administration (36 percent), desktop support (33 percent) and business intelligence/reporting services (28 percent).

Struggling to cope

“IT departments across all sectors are facing a shortage of skilled professionals. A shift in technological advancement means that businesses are unable to fill critical back-office roles that support organisational growth and flexibility. In particular, data management was highlighted as a top requirement by CIOs, as businesses prepare for changes in regulatory requirements,” commented Neil Hedges, Senior Manager at Robert Half Technology UK.

The shortqage of IT skills in the UK is a perrenial problem, and is blamed on many things including poor ICT teaching in schools, and a lack of IT graduates. Proposed solutions range from Open University courses, to Education Secretary  Michael Gove’s recent promise to reboot the school ICT curriculum.

“Many are struggling to manage the vast amount of information passing through the business, and lack the tools required to analyse it in a reasonable time frame, using conventional techniques. Unfortunately we are experiencing a situation where demand is outweighing supply in certain areas, and companies are struggling to attract the requisite talent to support this change.”

When asked about the main initiatives planned for the next twelve months, four in ten CIOs said that mobile solutions were at the top of their agenda. Virtualisation and information security shared the second spot, each with 35 percent, and application development and customer and partner collaboration followed, with 34 and 28 percent of the response, respectively.

“During a period of rapid and often unanticipated change, businesses need to adapt to stay ahead of the curve. Mobile solutions have been a top priority for CIOs, particularly as companies look to provide remote working access for their employees. As new platforms such as cloud computing, tablet computers and smartphones continue to gain momentum, IT professionals skilled in these areas will be in high demand,” Hedges concluded.

Many CIOs plan to upgrade and introduce new technology in 2012, with over half confirming that they plan to invest this year.