IT contractors ‘must focus on upskilling’

Friday 30 May 2014

If IT contractors are to be successful, they must focus on gaining skills rather than saving money, according to a new report.

The 16th Harvey Nash CIO (chief information officer) Survey, indicated that IT contractors hoping to succeed during the next sector boom need to gain the digital skills and experience that will help to fill the skills gap and assist companies in boosting revenue growth.

According to the survey, skills gaps are worsening, and these are restricting what digital strategies can achieve. Leaders in Asia were the most worried about skills shortages, with 76 per cent underlining this as a top concern, compared to 61 per cent in Northern Europe and 59 per cent in the UK.

The rest of Europe saw 60 per cent of its leaders name this as a problem, while 57 per cent in Eastern Europe, 56 per cent in North America and 50 per cent in Australasia saying the same thing.

This skills gap is only going to get bigger, according to the survey, with 60 per cent of technology leaders experiencing a skills shortage within their teams that is preventing their company from keeping up with its competitors. This is a significant rise on last year’s 45 per cent.

Of the skills that are in demand, change management and project management skills were the most sought after, followed by hands-on software development skills and IT strategy.  

Dr Jonathan Mitchell, CIO practice chairman at Harvey Nash, commented: “After six years of sluggish activity, this report clearly shows that 2014 is a watershed year.

“CIOs and technology leaders are seeing growing budgets and growing prominence in their organisation as CEOs are turning to technology to drive growth.”

He added that large numbers of IT leaders are saying that growth is right at the top of their agendas, and those stating that increasing revenue and profit is most important have increased since last year.

Mr Mitchell underlined that “significant challenges” lie ahead for the industry.

“This year has seen a worrying increase in the number of leaders citing concerns about skills shortages. To be successful, organisations will not only need a clear technology strategy, but they will also need the right people to deliver it,” he commented.

Indeed, 46 per cent of CIOs and technology leaders saw growth in the past year, according to the research, which was up on last year’s 42 per cent. This also marked the highest level of budget growth since 2006.

Other findings from the study included that almost two-thirds of CEOs are currently prioritising projects that generate cash, like digital marketing, customer-orientated systems and innovation-led projects.

With business confidence improving, CEOs appear to be moving away from austerity measures to thinking about how technology can be used to improve the effectiveness of their operations.

By Victoria McDonnell

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