CeBIT Discussions Follow Up: Shortage of IT Specialists in Germany

2011-07-27 by Walter Conant

According to the study carried out by Manpower, staffing agency, in 2010, 29 percent of employers in Germany claim that they suffer from the shortage of skilled workers – this is 6 percentage points less than in 2009. The economic crisis is over and now the skills shortage is on everyone’s lips. During the crisis the lack of skilled staff problem was temporarily out of attention. Many projects have been interrupted because of the crisis. Today they are taken out of tables and their implementation requires highly skilled workers. Vera Calasan, Director of Manpower Germany, says that the most medium-sized businesses are affected by this problem. In the next few years, the middle-sized companies will be missing dozens of thousands specialists.

The problem of the IT staff shortage has been hotly debated at CeBIT 2011. Not all the participants in the discussion did, however, agree that the situation with professionals in Germany is critical in any way. Hans-Joachim Weis, Executive Board Member of IG Metall, doubted the dangerous shortage of skilled workers in the IT sector and provided some evidence to back up his doubts. In Germany the number of IT unemployment remains relatively high – 31 thousand people. Also the salaries of IT professionals are on the same level as before, what is another evidence of stability in this technological area.

All other participants were in agreement and expressed some fears regarding to the existing situation on the labor market. But it is not just a skills shortage, but also that the requirements of employers to applicants have changed dramatically. There almost no pure technical specialists with expertise in Java, for example. They are expected to be able to analyze the customers' needs as IT experts as well as to work in virtual, multicultural teams. In other words, the applicants must be qualified not only in their technical field of expertise, but also to have other various subtle skills and abilities.

As one of the ways out of the existing situation, Frank Mang, manager from Accenture, pointed out at the recruitment of highly qualified employees in other countries – offshore outsourcing. Today, Eastern European countries are often chosen by Western European companies as an obvious outsourcing target. This is probably due to the geographical proximity and cultural similarity of these countries. Furthermore, all the Eastern European IT professionals have decent higher education and are fluent with English and German. So they stand in a strong advantage compared to outsourcing countries from Asia.

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