Why working in ICT is not attractive for the next generation


Facts and fiction around ICT sourcing have been over the years a regular topic in my blogs. My predictions on shortage of good ICT resources as well. Even during the deepest point of the 2009/2010 crisis. But I think that the structural shortage is even bigger than I thought.

Let's take the example of The Netherlands. A country with on average an educated population and known for its early pickup of ICT trends and waves. On a population of about 16,5 million people, 250.000 work in ICT. Current predictions are that, depending on the economy, by 2014 there will be a shortage of between 27.000 and 40.000 ICT resources. Thus between 11 and 16%! These numbers in my opinion are alarming and will not improve for at least the next 5 years.

Apart from the ever growing demand for ICT and the inability of the industry to raise its own productivity enough to cope with this growth, the single largest reason is that ICT is the very low number of ICT students. Why is ICT not attractive for the current generation? My five cents:

Random sound bites on how our industry is seen: boring, not as well paid as everybody says, fast in-fast out, too many procedures, nice for a few years, bad press on security and privacy.

Right or wrong, exaggerated or not, this is what the kids feel when they have to make a choice what to study. Thus only when we offer a more attractive package we will not get them on board.

First we have to remember that they are born in a "playstation world" with an iPhone as pencil and Facebook as their diary. Not for nothing the best ICT study is currently games design. We grew up with the notion that we should automate our processes, business and the world. They are expecting that everything is automated ("How could you live without the Internet dad?").

Secondly they are first and foremost consumers of information, not contributors or creators. And consumers simply take it for granted that stuff is available, any time and preferably for free. Adding information is not a logical thing anymore for them. Test it yourselves: pick a topic and Google it. Then check the dates of the found hits. Apart from maybe hot topics, you will be surprised how "old" they are. And yes, I don't regard Tweets as being information in this context. By the way: blogging is according to them old school too.

Thirdly everything nowadays is fluid: the latest cry in music or fashion rules. Trends come and go and a smartphone older than a year is killing for your pr. Committing to a 5 year study and a career to follow does not fit in this world. So we might start with an ICT study but if its not "fun" we switch easily to one of the many other interests of the day.

Well so far my observations on the "why". Next time I will give you my thoughts on how to tackle this issue.


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