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3 November 2008

IT as a Career Choice

Every year I gather with the leaders of the Australian ICT industry at various meetings and functions and we lament the lack of young folks who choose to study IT and seek a career in such a dynamic and interesting area. But then I see the job statistics and realise that the kids are just making realistic choices informed by wise advice from family and friends.

As Stan Beer reported in IT&T jobs fall off a cliff, graduates hit hardest: "The jobs decline is accelerating at a frightening pace, with the last three months proving to be the worst quarter by far in the past year. The IT&T jobs sector fell 2.28% in October and is down 23% over 12 months. What's more the IT&T sector has been in decline for all of 2008."

Every time a business wants to make savings then the IT costs get cut, and as soon as there is even a mild downturn IT gets hit again. Then when there is a major downturn IT costs get slammed even harder. 


Very rarely does the human resource budget in IT get increased - often new technology is implemented with little or no increase in people to run it.  It is the age old problem in IT - often it is relatively easy to get capital expenditure approved for new systems, but often it is almost impossible to have ongoing operational expenditure approved for the people to support the new systems. 

This means that the industry suffers from a very shallow talent pool. It is not because IT only attracts dummies. It is because the cuts are usually made against lower level positions. And it does make sense to keep more experienced people who can undertake diverse tasks. But it does mean that there are fewer trainees and new graduates coming through the system.

All of this is a very strange way to act with regards to a major strategic asset. Most companies rely completely on their IT systems but often seem to make short term focused decisions in relation to IT costs.

Smart companies will start to realise that having the technology installed is no use without clever committed and empowered people to run it cost effectively. Smart companies will start to realise that growing your own pool of IT talent and treating them well is also a smart investment.

By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire

2 comments:

alecthegeek said...

Perhaps we are hoist by our own petard?

IT have delivered such shoddy service for such a long the CEO feels justified in cutting the poorest performers first (and rewarding them last)...

Kate Carruthers said...

I think that might have something to do with it - a feeling of not getting value for money. Don't forget a Standish report on IT project management estimated something like a 15% failure rate (that's from memory because I'm too lazy to search the exact number).