SOCIETY | Jan 9, 2019

ICT professionals: needed but missing

The 2018 Digital Skills Observatory highlights a 58% gap between ICT job demand and supply. The opinion of Engineering CEO Paolo Pandozy.

The number of ICT professionals (+19%) is growing in Italy, together with posts not covered: in the three-year period 2018-2020, given a need which fluctuates between a conservative estimate of 62 thousand units and an expansive estimate of 88 thousand units, the level of supply totaled 72 thousand units, with a gap of unoccupied posts ranging between 10 and 16 thousand. This is one of the most significant findings reported in the fourth edition of the Observatory 2018 Digital Skills Observatory on ICT professions, conducted by AICA, Anitec-Assinform, Assintel and Assinter Italia in collaboration with MIUR and AgID.

“In the last year we have hired about 1,000 people, confirming a trend consolidated in the last 4 years; unfortunately, however, it is not easy to find the right skills here in Italy. Our university students are excellent but too few are trained in the disciplines that are needed”.

This is how Paolo Pandozy, Engineering CEO, confirms what the Observatory has highlighted.

In Italy, where is the greatest demand for ICT profiles?

The highest number of requests is recorded in the North-West, with a percentage equal to 48% of the Italian total, followed by the North-East and Central Italy with similar values: 25% the former and 20% the latter.

The professions with the most significant percentages are Systems Analyst and Cyber Security Officer (all above 25%), while in the North-East the most sought after profession is CIO (39.4%), followed by Technical Specialist (30%). According to the Observatory, vacancies in the South and Islands amount to 6% and the profession with the highest percentage is Digital Media Specialist (11%).

Specialist skills or also soft skills requested?

In addition to the lack of specialist skills, the Observatory also recorded increasing requests for soft skills, which became more pervasive in all ICT professions, with an average of 28% compared with the 35% for soft skills in non-ICT professions.

The most significant soft skill peaks (with values between 38% and 51%) are for ICT Operations Manager, Account Manager, ICT Consultant, Project Manager, Cyber Security Officer and Business Analyst.

How many ICT graduates will be needed in the future?

For 2018 alone, the Observatory estimates a need for graduates for companies that ranges between 12,800 and 20,500 units compared with just over 8,500 ICT students who will graduate, thus indicating a gap of 58%.

According to the report, there is an alarming mismatch between demand and supply for ICT skills and professions, both in terms of quantity and adequacy, with direct repercussions on the current delay and heterogeneity in digitization of our economy.

How to bridge the gap between supply and demand for ICT professionals?

The Observatory proposes five strategic areas for a quantitative and qualitative realignment between supply and demand:

  • increase in graduates and IT experts with advanced skills through the retention of ICT students and greater attractiveness for ICT degrees and higher diplomas
  • decrease in the dispersion of ICT students in the transition from secondary school to university and thus in completing study courses
  • renewal and improvement of the quality of ICT study courses
  • strengthening of permanent updating and professional reconversion
  • greater information, awareness and cooperation between companies, school/university and research.

“When we worry about robots stealing jobs,” comments Pandozy, “we should think that it will only happen for those who do not update. Faced with a market that is becoming increasingly complex, training centers of excellence are needed. Digital is an extraordinary opportunity which, as a country, we cannot afford not to grasp. Ensuring that young people and workers have access to specialist and updated know-how must be a priority not just for companies like ours, which is heavily involved in training programs, but also for schools and for politics”. 

Which are the professions most in demand?

Many new roles are required by the market and for which it is not easy to find candidates: from Data Scientist to Cyber Security Officer or Data Analyst. Behind these titles lie skills, knowledge, new ways of dealing with working days that we will try to present in this magazine by interviewing professionals who are now playing roles that until five years ago they did not even imagine could exist.