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Stephen IbarakiIndustry AnalystFCIPS, I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P, DFNPA, CNP, FGITCA, MVP
I participated in a survey and two focus group sessions sponsored by the SHRC and CATA. My lasting impressions: there’s a “right” skills shortage now and insufficient numbers to meet our future demands around 2010. This is a serious situation since Canada lags in productivity and this is attributable to lower ICT penetration in businesses supported by qualified IS workers.
What do I mean by the “right” skills? There is no question, there are unemployed IT workers. The key here is that businesses are looking for IT professionals with multiple deep skills sets combined with relationship, communication, core process, industry acumen and solid business knowledge. The requirements have changed and this will become even more pronounced for the future. What are the colleges and universities doing about this? How about employers—are they providing the necessary skills development and training? What about internationally trained workers where assessing qualifications can be a challenge; cultural and language issues present added barriers?
It’s our responsibility to raise these issues and to seek solutions. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this or send me an e-mail at email@example.com.
Thank you,Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P.
David, I’m not sure if our Blogs crossed but I find your points interesting.
You have some very valid points, but you need to be more positive in the way you try to express them.
Unlike you, I’ve been in the industry for over 32 years. I graduated from school but never went to University for a degree. This does not mean that I have not had to learn every single day of my career to get where I am. It is all too easy to criticize the system and the industry when things go wrong, but I’ve found the most positive way forward is to actually seek ways of improving it, by realizing its weaknesses and suggesting a strategy for improvement.
This is a political task in many cases, as people do not just jump to a conclusion being presented with a set of data, but tend to arrive at the decisions they make over a long period of time after many negotiations.
I have spent some 26 years out of Canada working in the both the leading edge and mainstream sectors of the I.T. industry, and the lack of commitment to I.T. in Canada is I’m afraid very evident. I.T. is not just the technology, but the whole infrastructure surrounding I.T. This includes the correct recognition for employees, both current and future.
I have no doubt that a graduate who has just completed 4 or 8 years of study to obtain degress hurt when they are unable to obtain the work they were led to expect. It is no less hurtfull than those are that feel they are being passed over for work after 20-30 years in the industry, and being called “over the hill” by juniors with far less experience.
It is the corporate political system (i.e. the way in which companies operate) that seems to be the problem in Canada, and it is following the model that preceeded it in both Europe and the U.S.
Companies in Canada do not seem to have a strategy for I.T. or the career progression of their employees. By de-skilling existing employees, companies lose a breadth of company knowledge that cannot be instantly replaced by new hires. As for the new hires, without these “over-the-hill” career specialists, who is going to provide you the mentoring you are requesting.
Don’t be so quick to dismiss us older I.T people, we have a lot to offer, and by taking a negative approach, you run the risk of alienating yourself to a vast pool of knowledge that doesn’t exist in any University course.
As for CIPS, although I am a new member, I do not believe it purports to be “another local tech school” but it does attempt to provide both employees and employers a standard by which people can be judged on their abilities, not just by the degree they have. I have come across many, many graduates that have entered high up in the I.T chain with two or three degrees, but none related to the work they were carrying out. I believe the certification process of the CIPS organization attempts to address this, not by introducing certificates and exams, but by identifying those professional I.T. people and certifying them as such, a certificate can mean as little of as much as the individual wants, industry certification is something completely different.
When it comes to the CIPS mentoring program, I can’t comment, but did you approach the CIPS executives to explain the problem? Also, what did you expect to gain from the mentoring program? Do you have a strategy for your own development within the I.T. sector?
I am an executive officer of 3 companies, as well as providing freelance consultancy to many companies and groups. I find that periodically I have less time for mentoring than others. I too have to keep my skills up, and I have responsibilities to the companies I support, as well as my family. I do however try to offer as much help as possible to anyone who is prepared to ask for it. But those who offer mentoring are not oracles of all wisdom, and we cannot give you knowledge.
Much like that of a missile, as mentors, we can point you in the right direction, and offer course corrections to allow you to achieve your target. Unlike a missile, it is you who need to choose your target and then convey that concisely and eloquently to your mentors. The propulsion system is all yours, if it runs out then the impetus to succeed dies with it.
Also, don’t forget that mentors don’t have to be the highest level executive, you don’t climb a ladder by grabbing for the top rung. If you are having problems getting a mentor at the executive level, try lower down the corporate ladder and closer to your immediate goals.
Don’t forget, that CIPS in its stated goals is to provide I.T. professionals with a way to realize their abilities with guidance from the code of ethics and body of knowledge. This is an evolutionary project, and has to move with the times. CIPS is a voluntary body, and as such relies on its members for input and support. By getting this input, and growing membership of professionally recognized people, we can gain the ear of both industry and the government. Only then can we engender changes within the system. It’s a slow process, but it can be made quicker by encouraging supportive, positive comment from all members on how to go forward. This may seem like politics to you, and often time it is, but it is the way things get done in the current system, and you can’t change the system from without.