Wage explosion - Can SMEs still afford IT specialists?

The shortage of skilled workers has led to "salary excesses" among sought-after IT experts. This was highlighted a few weeks ago by Peter Lieber, President of the Association of the Austrian Software Industry (VÖSI), to the news portal 'Kurier'. According to the report, many companies, particularly smaller ones, are unable to afford increasingly expensive IT specialists, even in an emergency.

Inside IT, a Swiss online magazine specialising in information technology, digitalisation and ICT channels, investigated the consequences of the labour shortage in Switzerland further and sought the opinions of other experts on this accusation of excessive prices and a wage explosion.

Dreamlab CEO and programme director of the Swiss Cyber Security Days, Nicolas Mayencourt, explained that SMEs can come under pressure because they are unable to procure essential skills or can no longer afford them. Especially for SMEs, this high-cost pressure leads to "important aspects being undermined, not carried out, postponed indefinitely" and has an "impact on the security, competitiveness and progress".

In Switzerland, when IT security experts must be called out in response to a crisis, it gets expensive, says Nick. He does not want to call the prices extortionate, but "unfortunately they are very high". On the one hand, this is due to the specialisation and the salary level of specialists, even if these can sometimes be hard to justify, he explains. Nick also called attention to the special aspects of security tasks: “It is like the fire brigade, who must put out a fire when it starts. Security incidents are unplannable events which organisations must be prepared for around the clock, to save assets and lives. Ensuring the survival of companies and sometimes, even of people, in the event of damage.”

According to Nick, the increasingly expensive ICT specialists have also led to complaints and concerns that have long since ceased to come only from SMEs. "Even large, established and international companies often reach their limits when it comes to the financial burdens imposed by ICT specialists. The trend has been going on for 20 years but has accelerated in the last 10, especially since the Covid19 pandemic".

Nick points to the shortage of skilled workers, which is by no means unique to Switzerland, as the reason for high prices. Due to the shortage of skilled workers, companies in rich, developed countries are beginning to cover their needs internationally: "This has led them to raise salaries internationally. Which has then led to countries with lower levels of prosperity, having most of their resources grazed out and with local companies no longer able to afford the wages". The "war for talent" is now running internationally and has intensified in the pandemic period. Digitalisation, remote working, digital nomads, etc. are other drivers and aspects that fuel this phenomenon. The job change is now not only local, but also global. Moreover, it is a generational issue - today's generation sees the labour market and the world of work differently, the job is no longer a life task.

The fact that Switzerland was relatively late to notice this tightening is because it was traditionally a high-price country. "More recently however, Switzerland is no longer a high-cost country in the ICT sector, with other countries paying more, and that is a new experience for Switzerland," says Nick. The fight for talent, he adds, is a fact and a reality, but "unfortunately neither sustainable nor helpful for healthy market development, the sector or long term job satisfaction". 

Read the full article (German only): https://www.inside-it.ch/lohnexplosion-koennen-sich-kmu-it-spezialisten-noch-leisten-20220427

Wage explosion - Can SMEs still afford IT specialists?

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