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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 of many areas such as quality, cost, trust and communication along with people skills. 

Over the past 15 years in the IT industry in Sri Lanka, I’ve seen improvements in technology education and how our youth have embraced it. As a result, an IT graduate today knows many more technologies than we did (there are hundreds more now). So on paper, their CV looks awesome. Yet, I see how fresh graduates and junior IT recruits fail at interviews. Maybe 1 in 5 would reach the 2nd interview. Then, if a foreign client interviews, another 1 out of 5 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 and personality. Before we see how these three relate to each other and build one-another, let’s see the mistakes in understanding this expectation. The expectation is still not purely on technologies. Yes, they are needed, but we need more than just that. With time, the technologies have changed immensely. Therefore, being able to adapt and learn new technologies has always been a good 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 generated code to AI driven tools-there are a lot that tech will do for you. So why do we have to learn something a machine will do better, obviously in less time and with 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’t have a choice…

We all know that there are so many areas our education system needs to improve in. But if we all come through the same system, why only some acquire soft 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. Do you 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 genius would be very attractive and valued. So you go for an interview, but fail to convince the interviewer of the importance of what you had done even with great effort and time. Yet you know its value. Who will take time to hire you, day in day out, just to see the value of your skills? Sorry, it won’t happen. Unless someone 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, your whole personality cannot be used to ‘pitch’ the next-best-idea-which-can-change-the-world!

So you blame the society.

You say those who 'just talk’ always gets better offers. Yet, you fail to see that ‘talking’ too, is a valuable skill to deal with people. You had done the hard work. Going through years of education, learning so many technologies 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. At the same time you had been learning English in school, for 10+ years, yet you are 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 majority of the society would be successful by now, because that’s one common thing they do without a doubt.

Let’s reverse this situation.

Start from improving your communication. It’s not just learning a language. If English was the barrier, none of the native English speakers would have 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 improve communication (I will write later with examples on creating opportunities). One thing for sure, you are going to FAIL. Those who do not even try might laugh at you. That’s guaranteed. Yet, you know your end goal so use the chances to practice and learn in real life situations. When you see the results, you will see how your confidence grows, which in turn builds your personality in a positive manner. This confidence then can be directed to any aspect in your personal life, so picture yourself already reaching that goal. That, will drive you.

The journey becomes very clear and swift when your personal skills improve.


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