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back to article Corporates! Bring in all-purpose filler for IT skills gap, thunders Steelie Neelie

Brussels' unelected digital czar warned on Monday that the European Union's competitive strength in the media and technology markets could be weakened if people fail to continue to develop the right IT skills. Neelie Kroes said that a coalition funded by the European Commission to the tune of €1m had been created to address that …

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EU Waste

"On top of the €1m thrown on the pile for this Grand Coalition, Kroes said a further €3.5m would be tossed in to this spring to pay for a 'pan-European awareness-raising campaign' for 2014"

Most of the EUR1m will be eaten up in admin overhead in Brussels. EUR3.5m on advertising isn't really going to change things. It will all be forgotten a month after the ad campaign stops.

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Pint

Re: EU Waste

This depresses me so much. I work for an EU research agency on a project which will be sending an instrument to Mars to perform solid science, and you wouldnt believe the fight we had to go through to get funding. And yet on a bunch of ads that will accomplish nothing, the EU will happily throw €4.5m down the drain...

This is seriously depressing... Beer icon because thats what I need right now...

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Re: EU Waste

Teh stupid is everywhere these days.

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There was me thinking the problem was that employers only wanted foreign workers on ridiculously low salaries. PhD for £22k a year - I lol'd at that job advert.

Or that all European tech companies die.

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Anonymous Coward

This is not a local/foreign thing, it's a demand thing, if everyone going for a £22k job has a masters, a PhD will mark you out.

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Facepalm

Re: AC

"...... if everyone going for a £22k job has a masters, a PhD will mark you out." Mark you out as someone that chose the wrong subject to study, you mean.

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JLH

Hundeds of thousands of unfilled vacancies?

I am laughing myself silly.

So where then is the law of supply and demand - why aren't huge salaries being offered for all those oh so desperately needed people to fill those vacancies?

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Pint

Abso-Fracking-lutely

When UK and Euro tech salaries catch up with those in the rest of the developed world, then I'll be quite happy to listen to their whining. All this is, as ever, is a plea for more cheap labour.

Tech careers are paid above average, but in general aren't compensated at anything like the value brought to the company and the money offered would be an insult to anyone in the US or Australia.

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Perhaps companies simply cannot afford to pay high salaries, even though they are desperate?

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Unhappy

Re: Abso-Fracking-lutely

Don't kid yourself about the US or Australia.

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Re: Abso-Fracking-lutely

Err, I'm not kidding myself about Australia, I was earning rather a lot there last year as a software guy. I basically got a 60% rise by moving over there from London. Sure the cost of living is high, but still. Now that I've come back I'm contracting because it's the only way to get a similar package (outside of the city)

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WTF?

There is short supply and wages are sky rocketing, at least in London, South East and South West (regions I know). If you posses reasonable skills you can land yourself £45k+ job within days. That's not too bad IMO.

Problem is majority does not have any skills and they call themselves "IT" because they know how to install MS Word and explain over phone how to insert SUM in Excel.

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"Steelie Neelie reckoned there were a number of areas that needed to be fixed. She claimed some people had no idea that they could pursue jobs in the IT industry. "

Or they have seen so many jobs outsourced to other countries, seen wages come down and decided that there must be a better way to earn a living... just a thought....

But that would suggest much of the problem was self inflicted by the very companies she wants to fix the problem.... couldn't be that - surely?! :)

I await the glorious conclusion that we need to bring in more cheap labor and bring those salaries down some more - that will fix it for certain.

God I'm feeling grumpy today...

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Anonymous Coward

Waaaahahahahahaha

Yeah right, €3.5m for hot air huff and puff - and that's the end to that!

How many billions do fishing and agriculture get by comparison? But who cares, the EU has more interest in offshoring IT services to countries in Asia or the Far East, fostering inter-company-transfer abuse and ensure tax avoidance, whilst our university educated youth in Europe is being pushed into low skill jobs, such as flipping burgers in that fat food joint after they got their MBA.

I first would like to see a tax on ICT and offshoring IT services, which I will see either whilst I'm stoned on heroin or when pigs fly.

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It's the brain drain

Pay peanuts, get .... well, UK industry doesn't even seem to want anything more than twentysomething grads. Where's the career path? Oh, right, it's into a Suit, selling Hot Air to the Public Sector. Or else it's to Silicon Valley. Or variants on a theme.

Faced with no opportunities beyond the early career, is it any wonder folks go elsewhere?

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Alert

Re: It's the brain drain

If you want the money you need to either strike out on your own or (as you say) head for management or another country.

Striking out on my own has worked quite well so far, and I hope to start selling hot air before long. I shall need to increase the bean-quotient in my diet :)

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Oh, how we laughed....

As one whose career is currently on the fast train to the job centre, courtesy of yet another offshoring decision by a group of enlightened senior managers, I can still manage to laugh at the industrial-strength stupidity at work in Brussels.

The IT jobs market for UK staff is heading down the pan faster than a donkey down a lift shaft. If anyone of younger years asks me how to get into IT, my answer is "don't", unless you plan to be an offshoring consultant.

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Unhappy

Unfortunately those who (think they) are important have somehow got the idea that IT people are only marginally better than those awful engineers, who themselves are barely above peasant status.

While this attitude persists I see little hope of improvement - especially here in the land of dopes and Tories.

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"I see little hope of improvement - especially here in the land of dopes and Tories."

I think that you're being fair on the Labour party, but I'm not sure why the Tories got off so lightly in that description.

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Humble apologies. I couldn't think of anything else to rhyme with "Hope and Glory"

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FAIL

Spin-Dizzy

So much spin, so little salaries.

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The "minor" option for my degree:

Mainframe Computing.

Apparently IBM are rather desperate to take people on with zOS/JCL/COBOL/etc experience, hence they encouraged the university to offer the module as an option.

Well. Everyone and their mother knows PHP, Ruby, Java, 'web design' and possibly even some C/C++. COBOL though? Not so much.

And after a couple of days of studying it, I can see why. Godawful excuse for a programming language. You think Python enforcing whitespace indents is bad? Wait until you get a load of "well it means different things depending on which column you put the character in." A real throwback to the days of punchcards and tape.

But hey, that's what a lot of critical finance software is written in and it's not going to get ported any time soon. I already know the usual languages.. why not put something obscure but valuable on the CV?

(and why the hell does z/OS use right control instead of enter?)

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JLH
Happy

Re: The "minor" option for my degree:

JCL? Z/OS ? I used to do a lot of that - well MVS and VM/CMS when I were a lad!

I agree with you re JCL - it IS a throwback to punch cards - because, err, well, the machine expects to be reading punch cards. I can also use a punch card machine.

Maybe I should revive my JCL and start earning those big bucks!

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Bottom line

There's no way I'd encourage my son or daughter to pursue a career in IT. The tech profession has been wrecked beyond repair by a decade of gutting by the very business leaders the commissioner is appealing to. The impoverished (both in experience and pay) tech labor pool we've got left in Europe and America is exactly what those leaders aimed for, although I suppose that they, like many others who believe in gravity-free zones, will continue in the delusion that they'll be able to just snap their fingers and turn it around at this late date.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bottom line

You are correct.

Especially when the trend is to freighting in graduates from Malaysia and similar. They work all the hours for sod-all, don't ask difficult questions and you can sack 'em on the spot when business drops, rather than having to faff about with redundancy payments. Well, that's what the senior management types in these parts say anyway.

The vast numbers of vacancies are an industry myth designed to ensure that the bar for work visas for IT staff from Asia is kept at an industry-friendly low level.

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Trollface

I feel old

I do electron fiddling and can also use Excel - does that count as IT skills?

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Re: I feel old

will get you a job as a CIO

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Thumb Up

Re: I feel old

I am old, and grumpy. I was young once, and grumpy, though, so let me say that at any age an aspirant to IT-hood cannot go wrong practicing the art of synergistic semantic acronym refinement (SSAR). I don't know what it means either, but someone in the Russian Federation should. Put it on your resum ... CV.

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Facepalm

will code for food

Hilarious, apparently there is a lack of people willing to do IT for minimum wage.

Quick, its a shortage, lets open the borders.

The fall in the IT degree students is because they have seen the writing on the wall.If they can see it why can't our lords and masters, surely their friends in business taking those huge bonuses and offering MP's directorships while their company offshores IT can explain? oh wait now I see.

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FAIL

Same old

News

Has any one in charge actually worked out why theres a shortage?

First one is how many students/school leavers want to get into a game where your job can be outsourced at a moments notice, combined with the poor pay for the amoutn of skills you need in order to qualify for a junior position eg Hons degree, 5 yrs experience in C++ , HTML5 , Python, ruby, and at least 2 yrs experience in a technology thats only been out 3 months... pay £17K/yr

And the second one is almost as bad, the number of recruitment agencies who advertise the same job making it appear that there are 30 odd empty positions when its only 1 job actually going

But give it 6 months and there'll be an announcement

"with the failure of our IT recruiting scheme, the only option to cure the shortage is to bring in IT grads from outside the EU"<whispers> "who can be paid 50% of whats on offer to EU citizens"

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Re: Same old

Pretty much. Hence my wish to expand my skillset to something not so easily outsourced. Not to mention I have a fair amount of warehouse and retail experience, so if someone's on a sickie and I don't have anything that desperately needs to be done that day, I can always offer myself to tip or load the 40 tonner that's just pulled up. Or maybe sit on the tills. Or perhaps do some customer service for a bit. A one-day £150-or-so refresher course later, and you now have an extra fork lift driver on your payroll. That's me.

Unfortunately, if you're working for a business that can outsource your job to India for 50p an hour.. you're screwed. Fortunately, it's not so easy to outsource "holy shit, we need someone in the warehouse right now". Even temp agencies can't do that as quickly as it'd take me to go from the office to the shop floor.

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"Steelie Neelie reckoned there were a number of areas that needed to be fixed. She claimed some people had no idea that they could pursue jobs in the IT industry. "

Well bearing in mind the number of experienced IT people around who are finding it hard to get a job in the current "outsource everything to a cheaper country" environment, don't see much point in encouraging even more less qualified people into the industry. Already half the job adverts require multiple skills that don't always go together (project support who can also do database admin & BA, with a bit of VBA on the side, for £18k a year???), so trying to get even more people who don't have any of the skills to apply for the few available jobs seems pointless.

Unless of course they are talking about telephone support, as almost anyone who's worked in a call centre can use a written script without deviating from it (sigh)

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Bye bye IT

The fact that someone who has no clue about what is actually happening on the ground, can get €1m to piss away on nothing just makes me more angry and glad to be getting out of this industry.

The IT race to the bottom in the UK means I'm earning less now than I was when I graduated more than a decade ago.

So I've finally done it. I've given up on IT as a career. I've out sourced my own job.

I'm going to go Snowboarding for a while. When I come back I will be painting and decorating. It pays better and requires less thought or stress.

No I'm not joking.

Bye bye El-reg - it's been fun (but I will be back to check progress on LOHAN)

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Re: Bye bye IT

"I'm going to go Snowboarding for a while."

Sounds like your IT career was a fucking nightmare.

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Pint

Well paid contracting pains

I went from working a well paid salary job to a contracting role just outside of London where I was making... roughly the same amount as what I was making in my permanent job. Then I got offered a really well paid job... in Ireland. So every Monday morning, I pack my bags, go to Gatwick and take a flight to Dublin. Then every Friday afternoon, I reverse the trip and spend the weekend at home on the south coast.

I was thinking of heading back home to Australia to try and get a well paid job over there, but when I was back there a couple of years back, I was shocked at the cost of living out there. Yes, I would be making a load of money back in Australia... but when you are paying out around 1k-2k/month in rent in addition to the cost of your utilities and then having to buy food on top of that (and paying out $10 for a pint of lager... where is the fun in that). I figured that I wouldnt be making any more really than I am making now.

Now... where is my cheap beer?

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Re: Well paid contracting pains

"Yes, I would be making a load of money back in Australia... I figured that I wouldnt be making any more really than I am making now."

Doesn't sound much of a life, weekly commuting to another country from the UK. Personally I think I'd be happy to be poor in Australia, because the government may be just as busy as Westminster in making the country a worse place, but at least the weather's better.

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IT Angle

"IT" is too broad

"IT" is too broad. There are programmers, consultants, administrators, infrastructure, support, help desk people, they all fall in "IT" category despite having completely different skill set. Sentences like "I work in IT" is as accurate as "I work with mechanical devices" and may mean anything.

As a programmer I can tell there is serious shortage of developers in UK. Salaries advertised are at all time high and if you're good you can negotiate them up by further 10-20%. If head hunters activity is any indication then crisis is over - at least for programmers...

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Flame

If they bothered to pay a decent wage for these 'thousands of vacancies' they'd get more applicants.

When the economy took it's nose dive the first thigns a lot of companies did was to gut their IT Departments as these departments 'Didn't make any money and ran at a loss". Case in point, the Company I worked for, a company heavily engaged in telecommunications, downsized it's IT Dept from 5 techs providing 24/7 support, a web designer and a web developer to 1 IT guy (not me fortunately) to provide 24/7 support and a web designer.(Yep, they got rid of the developer and kept the designer). But at least they managed to hire three new salespeople to sell a product they couldn't hope to support.

The only IT jobs that were available paid stupidly bad wages

"OK, the job is you support the end users, handling ANY IT related issue they can think of, we want you to take telephone calls AND handle ten remote desktops simultaneously. Your shift pattern is 8 1/2 hours a day 5 days out of seven including weekends between 8am and midnight, there are no public holidays (Yes, you do have to work Xmas day and New Years) you get a half hour for lunch and for all that we will pay you the princely sum of £14,500 per annum"

I do not recommend ANYONE to consider a career in IT at this time.

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".....as these departments 'Didn't make any money and ran at a loss". "

I hear this a lot, but strangely never seem to hear this being said about another department that costs money yet makes none - the finance bods. Or HR for that matter....

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Here's an extract from the Evening Standard: http://www.standard.co.uk/business/markets/growth-capital-comparative-secret-thats-a-broadband-----bright-idea-7770764.html

“...The turning point came in 2006 when we signed Confused.com,” Phillips explains. Revenues hit £230,000 in the first year, and almost tripled to £680,000 a year later.

Broadbandchoices now has more than 50 partners, and the business, based on High Holborn, employs 50 staff. “London is a great place to be involved in tech, but recruitment is a challenge,” says Phillips.

“There’s a shortage of developers, and a lot of vacancies are being filled by people from overseas. It would be much better if these people were graduating from UK universities.” ..."

There are definitely jobs out there - as for talent... well I don't see that as a problem either I know plenty of tech graduates who are willing to learn. Perhaps the problem is more that companies don't factor in the added cost of training into their business so they are struggling (quite rightly) because they haven't made adequate provisions for such needs.

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JLH

"And the business based in High Holborn London. "

"Recruitment is a challenge"

Well there's a surprise - everything OK for those at the top who are drawing large slaries and can afford that nice place in Clapham?Notting Hill.

But you want recent graduates to work for you in central London - are you paying them a decent enough wage to be able to afford to rent a place and afford a Travelcard?

Or are you jsut whining that they won't work for peanuts and live in a shed.

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