Tech Insights
Janaka Peiris
December 17, 2019

IT industry: is there a tech skill shortage or a personality shortage?

IT industry: is there a tech skill shortage or a personality shortage?

IT outsourcing happens not just due to low-cost. It’s a combination ofmany areas such as quality, cost, trust and communication along with peopleskills.

Over the past 15 years in the IT industry in Sri Lanka, I’ve seenimprovements in technology education and how our youth have embraced it. As aresult, an IT graduate today knows many more technologies than we did (thereare hundreds more now). So on paper, their CV looks awesome. Yet, I see howfresh graduates and junior IT recruits fail at interviews. Maybe 1 in 5 wouldreach the 2nd interview. Then, if a foreign client interviews, another 1 out of5 would go through, giving less than 5% chance of being hired.

It is simply the expectation vs reality battle.

What is that we seek in employees? Communication, confidence andpersonality. Before we see how these three relate to each other and buildone-another, let’s see the mistakes in understanding this expectation. Theexpectation is still not purely on technologies. Yes, they are needed, but weneed more than just that. With time, the technologies have changed immensely.Therefore, being able to adapt and learn new technologies has always been agood skill. Still, the ‘human’ aspects are the mostly valued. It’s the"personality" aspects that we are looking for.

Machines cannot replace us

In an era where tech is automating so many things-with auto generatedcode to AI driven tools-there are a lot that tech will do for you. So why do wehave to learn something a machine will do better, obviously in less time andwith fewer mistakes? What about the qualities a machine doesn’t have,interpersonal skills, convincing a client or understanding their requirements?

Its because of “our educational system”. So I don’thave a choice…

We all know that there are so many areas our education system needs toimprove in. But if we all come through the same system, why only some acquiresoft skills the businesses need? Then we blame it on ‘opportunity’. Yes,nothing is shared equally in the world, and it is the same in any country. Doyou want these outside factors to stop you from becoming the best you can be?

Story of a Genius. The unsung hero.

Imagine this. You are a pure tech genius. Still, no one knows about you.Your communication skills are below average. Yet you assume that your geniuswould be very attractive and valued. So you go for an interview, but fail toconvince the interviewer of the importance of what you had done even with greateffort and time. Yet you know its value. Who will take time to hire you, day inday out, just to see the value of your skills? Sorry, it won’t happen. Unlesssomeone already knows your worth.

What if you cannot talk confidently about your work? What does it show?Others might see it as if you are not sure of your own work. As a result, yourwhole personality cannot be used to ‘pitch’ thenext-best-idea-which-can-change-the-world!

So you blame the society.

You say those who 'just talk’ always gets better offers. Yet, you failto see that ‘talking’ too, is a valuable skill to deal with people. You haddone the hard work. Going through years of education, learning so manytechnologies after many failed attempts. But no one learnt IT from grade one;what you mostly use are what you learned during the last five years or so. Atthe same time you had been learning English in school, for 10+ years, yet youare not confident in communicating in English.

So what’s the solution?

Strong communication > uplifts confidence >better personality

Did you achieve anything just by blaming the society? If so the majorityof the society would be successful by now, because that’s one common thing theydo without a doubt.

Let’s reverse this situation.

Start from improving your communication. It’s not just learning alanguage. If English was the barrier, none of the native English speakers wouldhave this issue. No, it’s both English language and effective communication.

Communication and self-confidence go hand in hand. When you improve one,the other follows and vice-versa. Look for opportunities where you can improvecommunication (I will write later with examples on creating opportunities). Onething for sure, you are going to FAIL. Those who do not even try might laugh atyou. That’s guaranteed. Yet, you know your end goal so use the chances topractice and learn in real life situations. When you see the results, you willsee how your confidence grows, which in turn builds your personality in a positivemanner. This confidence then can be directed to any aspect in your personallife, so picture yourself already reaching that goal. That, will drive you.

The journey becomes very clear and swift when your personal skillsimprove.