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Filling the IT skills gap in financial services

As hundreds of thousands of young adults reflect on their A-level results and look ahead to the future, they might do worse than to consider a career in IT. Demand for IT staff jumped 44% in July 2011 compared to the same time last year, according to recruitment group Reed’s Annual Job Index. And yet the number of students taking IT courses has, shockingly, fallen by 49% since 2006.

This disparity is being acutely felt in the financial services sector. Financial institutions are increasingly viewing technology-driven disciplines such as customer insight and risk management as necessities, rather than luxuries. Ovum predicts that IT spending in the financial markets will hit £90bn by 2015. Yet as firms rely more on increasingly advanced technology, the job requirements for the people who use that technology become more complex and subsequently the talent pool gets shallower.

For example, skilled analysts are highly desirable in the financial services industry and salaries have risen accordingly. Firms now have to pay a premium to get the right people for IT jobs.

So just where is the next generation of IT professionals in the financial services sector going to come from?

One solution is for IT vendors in the sector to sponsor academic courses which give complete training on their products. Some universities have already teamed up with such companies to launch courses on sought after skills like data mining and analytics, to nurture the next generation of business professionals.

Graduates of these courses can expect highly paid jobs with top financial institutions. With unemployment among young people on the up, choosing an IT career in the financial services industry might be a shrewd move.

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Comments: (1)

Chris Errington
Chris Errington - None - London 26 August, 2011, 14:55Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Its a good point. 

Fundamentally, companies have to step up to the plate and take action to secure future talent, especially in technology.  There are good commercial reasons for doing so, as you say mostly around the cost of buying in pre-trained talent later.  But you also get fresh thinking from which to innovate.

We commenced an entry level graduate recruitment programme recently as an investment in the future.  We've just recruited our first 4 (UK) technology graduates and will continue to do so.

More companies need to get back in the market for new talent, and do so before the future arrives.

Working alongside universities to secure the best talent (and buy in) is a positive approach.