Shortly after fielding questions from 140 top partners from Canada, Sorgen told Computer Dealer News that the IT talent shortage was the top issue discussed with partners at the recently concluded Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, held here.
“The skills gap is growing at an alarming rate. In the short term we have to address the reality and in the long term we must look at it in a holistic way,” he said.
In the short term, Canada IT professionals are getting closer to retirement and the concern is that this experience and know-how will leave the workforce for good. Sorgen said that this knowledge has to be treated as a corporate asset. “We have to plan now. The customer relationships those people developed over time must be organized and accessible in an effective way in a CRM system. This way it can stay as an asset to the company,” he said.
Sorgen believes that this knowledge base can be captured and indexed intelligently and put on portals that can be searched by the next generation of employees.
He also said that the Canadian marketplace may not need as many employees as it did in the past. Some employee contributions maybe replaced through increased productivity. Sorgen said that this approach is another short term tactic for improving the IT talent situation.
In the longer term, Sorgen said that Microsoft and its partners must introduce technology into early childhood education. “By introducing technology into the curriculum it starts lifelong learning,” he said.
Another strategy is to transition workers from other industries into IT.
One of the plans outlined here at the conference is the DreamSpark program, which makes available all platform tools from Microsoft to any collage and university student at no charge. “This program ensures no one is disadvantaged,” Sorgen said.
Recently, Microsoft Canada hosted a Digi girlz event at their offices where several grade seven and eight students from the Region of Peel, a Toronto suburb, were introduced to technology.
“By itself, it will not make the difference so we try to encourage others to do the same,” Sorgen said.
Microsoft Canada is also working with ITAC to take these programs across the country to show that IT can make an appealing career for children.
*CDN‘s full Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2008 coverage:
Microsoft Canada addresses the IT skill shortage
Microsoft adds partner cash to SaaS offerings
Microsoft partners get tools to sell SaaS
Channel gets a JumpStart on Forefront security offerings
VARbose: Streamlining of Microsoft licensing programs is overdue