No Talent

By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2007-07-25 Print this article Print

: Solution Providers Despair Over Job Seekers"> Ask a channel executive if its hard to get good help these days and get ready for an earful. Just when the need for qualified IT technicians is greater than ever, the talent pool is thinnest, according to channel employers and analysts. Observers attributed this to a number of reasons, including a hangover from the dot-com bust of a few years ago and the spate of layoffs it caused, a mismatch between the actual skills of applicants and job qualifications, double-digit drops in college enrollments for computer science majors and the inability of channel companies to attract recruits who would rather work for IT vendors with recognizable names. "After the dot-com boom, parents told their kids, I dont want you going into technology, and they havent changed their message since," said Larry Kesslin, president of 4-Profit, a channel advisory company in Riverdale, N.Y. "I think its the biggest issue channel partners are going to face over the next five years."
Although some people dismissed the IT industrys laments about a shortage of skilled labor, by far most of those interviewed by eWeek Strategic Partner said the dearth is a big problem that has touched them. Channel executives complained that even though they often get plenty of applicants for advertised positions, job seekers typically lack the requisite skills and often have unrealistic expectations about compensation and job responsibilities.
"We continue to get very good response to ads that we place in various media, but the number of people responding who we could consider for our practice is very small," said Howard Cohen, president and chief operating officer of LAN Associates Network Solutions, in Central Islip, N.Y. "We could be too demanding, but we need a cross-section of professional, personal and technical skills," said Cohen, who added that finding people with all three is difficult. How to Tackle the IT Skill Shortage. Click here to read more. Exacerbating the problem is that as technology in such areas as wireless and VOIP (voice over IP) becomes more affordable, it fuels demand. And while that is a positive development, it also makes the need for IT talent even more acute. "Its really stunning to me when people say they dont believe there is a shortage because our entire world is run on IT," said Susan Underhill, vice president of global certification and partner education at Hewlett-Packard, in Palo Alto, Calif. "I understand fear of working for a computer company, but IT itself is everywhere. Everyone is using wireless and handheld devices; everyone has an Internet connection. The application of the technology is where the real opportunity is and where the shortages are going to be felt. You can only outsource or offshore so much." Media hype surrounding the outsourcing of technology positions has over­shadowed the fact that not all work can be sent offshore, industry in­­siders said. Channel companies know this better than others because they especially need the type of hands-on IT work that cannot be sent elsewhere. An on-site customer call, for example, cannot be handled from India or the Philippines. "We need to get the word out that there will be a huge demand for IT pros," said Neill Hopkins, vice president of skills development at the Computing Technology Industry Association, or CompTIA, in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. "Infrastructure will not go away; computers arent going anywhere. The number of devices we have connecting to networks will only increase exponentially, including PCs and personal devices. All of these devices are going to have to be supported in one way or another." Page 2: No Talent: Solution Providers Despair Over Job Seekers.


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