The bad news for finance IT professionals just got worse. Already lumbered with a credit crisis and the prospect of deep job cuts, and now research suggests the financial services sector is the most hampered by an IT skills shortage.
According to the 2008 silicon.com Skills Survey (see further reading, below), 54 per cent of finance workers say their business has IT positions to fill. The results even compare unfavourably to other sectors that have significant gaps, such as government and retail.
And that’s not even the end of the problem. Programming is the most in-demand technology skills for finance firms, as bread and butter a prerequisite for running a successful IT department as up-to-date servers and PCs.
With economic conditions worsening by the day, finance firms will need to think quickly about how to meet demand for programming skills when IT spending remains under scrutiny.
The answer, with firms continuing to slash technology positions, is to adopt more innovative approaches. Basically, if line-of-business workers demand programming, they can do it themselves - and if you think that approach is unrealistic, think again.
Research from Manchester University indicates there will only be three million professional programmers, compared with as many as 90 million end user developers, in the US by 2012.
Allowing people that are not trained or employed as programmers to create solutions might sound beyond-blue-sky thinking, but the approach – otherwise known as EUD – is actually grounded and pragmatic.
The Manchester research indicates half of respondents not involved in an IT profession have already heard of EUD and 60 per cent believe the approach is preferable to waiting for the IT department to facilitate requests.
These non-IT workers have the right idea, because talented technology workers are likely to become an increasingly scarce commodity.
Analyst TowerGroup estimates 300,000 people could have lost their jobs in the financial services sector globally by the end of 2009, with as many as 25% drawn from IT professionals (see further reading).
Finance firms should avoid fretting because the Web 2.0 era is demonstrating how users can easily create collaborative web platforms, without being a talented code cutter.
Programmers might be thin on the ground but many finance staff are already adapt at end user programming – whether they know it, or not.
Embrace EUD and foster a sense of creativity among your users now. If you’re an executive at a cost-pressured finance firm, it could be the smartest – and most important – decision you make during the next twelve months.