Local talent the answer to plugging skills gap in IT

Mark Dean, one of the original developers of the PC and the regional chief technology officer at IBM, explains the impact of the skills gap in the technology industry.

The need to analyse electronic information is forecast to create a jobs boom, with 4.4 million workers in the sector required worldwide by 2015.

But a skills gap in the technology industry means specialists in big data are hard to find.

Here, Mark Dean, one of the original developers of the PC and the regional chief technology officer at IBM, explains the problem.

How big is the IT skills shortage in the Middle East?

There are potentially larger gaps in skills in some areas, but I can't say in general that the Middle East is at a much greater deficit. This is a global problem and the Middle East is just as challenged in the same way that many other regions are. We're sitting in a developing region and I believe it's a lot like other developing countries - China, India, Brazil, some of the African countries. They are all developing and they all suffer from finding sufficient skills.

Where are these skills shortages?

In some areas in technology, the Middle East faces a greater challenge in IT in general - in computer science and in the use of some of the advanced technology, analytics, security and cloud computing. There is a gap and I think in order for companies to be competitive globally it is important for the Middle East to focus on developing these skills.

What is the effect of this on the economy?

It is hard to say how much it affects the economy. [Having the skills] would help things run more efficiently and it would allow you to get things that you aren't presently able to get at. The economy seems pretty good here, growth is good, but how much better could it be with the right skills?

Is it better to import talent to plug the skills gap?

You can bring in talent to help out and start things out, but you really want to develop local talent. I think it's always better to have local skills. You understand the culture better, you can deliver things more efficiently, there is more trust if you are local, so you are much better off. If you are trying to grow and sustain your economic growth, you are much better off having local, native talent.