IT shortages create demand for multiskilling

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A demand for more return on IT investment combined with looming IT skills shortages has put increased value on multiskilled IT staff, according to a local IT recruitment and outsourcing firm.

A demand for more return on IT investment combined with looming IT skills shortages has put increased value on multiskilled IT staff, according to a local IT recruitment and outsourcing firm.

Joseph Vella, chief executive of JAV IT Group, said people trained to work in a multiskilled environment were becoming more valuable to employers. Such staff provided flexibility and acted as backup when staff were unavailable or had left the company.

"One of the greatest costs [for a company] is having to pick up the uncompleted work of someone who has left the premises," Vella said.

He said the existing IT recruitment model did not address the IT industry's need for flexibility.

Generally, once a recruiter filled a vacancy a fee was paid and the relationship ended, Vella said. However, employers wanted more than just a person to do a job.

Vella said recruiters must take ownership of candidates that were assigned to a particular job. This belief was reflected in his company's Resource on Demand model, he said.

JAV's Resource on Demand involved taking on a project from an organisation and then allocating personnel. A service level agreement (SLA) was put in place that imposed a financial penalty should the candidate or candidates not perform to expectations.

Vella said the model differed from traditional contracting because regular meetings were held to assess service requirements.

The goal was to create a mirror image of particular skill sets in different people so they could easily be replaced.

"[The employer] feels a greater sense of security because a person doesn't take all the IP with them [when they leave]," Vella said.

Vella said exposure to different facets of IT knowledge made IT professionals more valuable to employers.

"There is a fantastic opportunity for IT professionals to obtain increased job satisfaction because of the increased IT knowledge presented to them," he said.

According to Vella, overall shortages in IT professionals meant that experience in different areas of IT was becoming even more valuable.

"There has been a decline in graduate intake over the last three years as a result of the IT bubble bust in 1999," he said.

"Projects that sat on the shelf for the last two years are now getting the go-ahead but the people aren't there to go ahead with them."

Vella said the universities had been doing a good job educating students about new technologies. However, IT houses wanted people with work experience.

Large organisations, such as banks, were a great training ground that exposed candidates to a variety of skills, Vella said.

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