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IT skills shortage in Channel Islands

Tuesday 02 March 2010 by

Demand for specialist IT personnel is exceeding supply and threatening to hamper the development of new and existing systems at some of the |Channel Islands’ leading financial institutions.

While it might seem that plenty of islanders are going into IT as a career, there are many different aspects to the industry and some are struggling to cope at the moment.

The problem areas are in analysis and development, where talented individuals are needed to create bespoke systems based on existing platforms, rather than simply installing the standard version software.

The issue here is the training required to create such specialists: while schools, the College of Further Education and other providers including AP Courses offer a variety of IT learning as regards mainstream names such as Microsoft, Cisco and even accounting packages like Sage, when it comes to names that are little-known outside the IT world – but which have an influence on a whole company and therefore its clients too – such as Globus and 4Series the only source of training is in-house.

While many of the bigger companies are fully aware of the importance of this and do ensure that their key IT people keep their knowledge up to date, the fact remains that there is not a large enough pool of replacements for them to draw on if staff move on or they need to augment their team.

This view is supported by a recent CGi (Confederation of Guernsey Industry) survey, which asked the group’s members to look at the operational aspects of running a successful business in Guernsey. Staff retention and recruitment featured prominently, with IT named first in a list of skills cited as being in highest demand, along with accountancy, marketing and human resources. ’The inability to recruit sufficiently within these areas has resulted in an incapacity to develop business, missed deadlines, increased staff training costs, lesser quality products and services and, in some cases, lost business,’ the CGi concluded.

I have been involved in recruitment for seven years and the demand for people with skills in IT, telecommunications and electronics has grown to such an extent that AP Group decided to create a dedicated division, AP Technical, to specialise in filling vacancies in these areas. As recruiters, my colleagues and I are acutely aware of any skill. Our clients range from small commercial firms to the telecommunications companies and huge international finance houses. When we are approached by a client with a vacancy, we are accustomed to providing them with several candidates, any of whom could do the job and from whom the client makes a personal choice.