Diverse workforce helps plug IT skills gaps

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Diverse workforce helps plug IT skills gaps

Firms need to update their recruitment policies to protect against future IT skills shortages, according to experts speaking at a recent digital skills event in London, hosted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology and Equalitec.

The European Commission predicts there will be a shortfall of 300,000 qualified IT staff by 2010. At the event, firms such as HP and Fujitsu Services outlined measures they have implemented to tackle the problem, including setting recruitment quotas and developing diversity policies around business objectives.

Kate Seeley, HP’s workforce, planning and staffing director across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told delegates that of the 11,000 new employees the computing giant expects to recruit this year, a third are required to be women.

“At the graduate level, we’ve set the bar higher at 50 per cent,” she added. “And I get monitored on meeting these numbers.”

Although Seeley said she does not have problems meeting the quotas, moving women up the career ladder into senior roles was a challenge.

“One contributing factor is women taking career breaks, but I’ve taken people back as returners for one day a week,” Seeley explained. “Also women can be their own worst enemy. They want to make sure they can tick nine out of 10 boxes before going for a job. We want to foster a climate where women are encouraged to put themselves forward for more senior roles.”

HP has developed a technical career framework to offer clear advice on progressing upwards at the firm, from the bottom rung of architect or developer, up to chief information officer. This type of guidance is an important factor in retaining female IT workers, according to Nancy Pascall, gender policy officer in the EC’s Information Society and Media division.

“There needs to be transparency over staffing processes as many women feel they’re overlooked,” Pascall said at the event. “Employers also need to introduce measures to encourage women to stay at firms, such as training, teleworking, job sharing and mentoring schemes.”

Seeley was keen to highlight the business benefits of HP’s staffing and recruitment efforts.

“It’s only by getting diversity into the workforce that we can drive creativity and innovation,” she argued. “It’s also a competitive advantage as we work with a very diverse customer base and need to reflect that in our internal workforce.”

Stephen Alford, an HR manager at Fujitsu Services, used the event to outline his firm’s equal opportunities and inclusion policy, which was developed around business requirements and aims to attract IT talent from every available pool.

“You need to demonstrate to the board how your diversity strategy supports the business objectives of the organisation,” Alford explained. “Through our efforts, we’re better placed to help Fujitsu win business. Half of the contracts we win are in the public sector, and a pre-qualified requirement is that suppliers comply with equal opportunities legislation and are committed to diversity. Also the differentiator for many graduates looking to join IT companies is now the social conscience of prospective employers.”
itweek.co.uk @ 2010 Incisive Media
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