Philippines Faces IT Skills Shortage

If uncorrected, the lack of skilled programmers in the labor pool could hurt the rapid growth expected in the nation's IT sector

According to the Canada-based research firm, the average growth of IT labor in the Philippines stood at 10 percent in the last 10 years and is predicted to grow at a "steady" 3 percent in the next five years.

Despite the increase, the XMG study revealed an insufficient skilled labor pool to sustain the country's total IT growth, which is projected to accelerate by 30 percent to 35 percent year-on-year through 2010.

The study identified the skills shortage in Python, VBScript, Perl, XML and programmers in the Philippines, due to low incident count coming from the general IT population.

In the field of programming and enterprise applications, the study noted that skills in SAS, SAP, Lotus Notes and MySQL will be increasingly difficult to source, and companies must be prepared to pay a premium price to recruit professionals with these skills.

The study further emphasized a shortage of networking skills, particularly those in network administration.

The majority of fresh talents in the country will be sourced from Metro Manila, making up 22 percent of the estimated 50,000 to 60,000 graduates each year, according to XMG.

"There is a clear need to establish additional training institutions and ladderized degree programs [offered] by existing universities to boost the dwindling talent supply, due to the growth of the Philippine offshoring industry and migration of IT skilled workforce to countries such as the United States, Singapore, Canada, the Middle East and Europe," XMG statistician Benedict Dormitorio said.

The analyst also stressed the importance of ensuring curriculum alignment of educational institutions with current market needs through close consultation with IT companies and organizations.

XMG chief analyst Lauro Vives said: "With the increasing demand for IT professionals today, companies should be aware of the situation and align their strategies to mitigate risk coming from the labor market."

In order to minimize paralysis on critical operations and sustain growth, companies must extend their recruitment reach and improve efforts in skills development. They should also enrich retention and provide "hot skills" training for existing talents in the organization to avoid high additional cost components associated with these skill areas, XMG said.

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