UnionMaine

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How human resources is crippling IT

The IT Skills Shortage is a real and present danger.

IT executives say they can’t find workers with the skills they need.

The reality is that both IT executives and the human resources department are partners in creating the skills shortage they using for an excuse for outsourcing.

To hire or to “find” skilled IT employees they only need to look as far as their own IT department, and then make investments in IT training.

Why won’t the State invest in training?

The answer is that OIT does not drive the hiring or retention of OIT employees. HR runs the show and is only interested in the bottom line and retaining total control of the employees regardless of the effect on the State’s IT infrastructure.

In Maine HR drives the IT strategy and is causing a serious threat to the recruitment, retention and morale of employees. An HR department that provides career development would be able to provide needed IT staffing levels and lower turnover rates. Our HR department is more interested in getting more from each employee for less money.

HR does not know how to write a job description for IT or how to decide who the best manager for an IT department is. Office managers from other departments and Customer service managers do not make good IT managers.

HR has no respect for the highest level of technical skill.

Unless you are a manager your career reaches an end rather quickly. In order to go up the career ladder you need to become management and perhaps leave behind the job you were trained to do.

In many cases HR will promote people to management who have never worked in the IT area that they manage, they are hiring and promoting the wrong people.

State policy is silent on how many hours I am required to work. The running joke in OIT is that “My boss gives me the ability to flex my time” “he doesn’t care when I work my 60 hours.

Why so many hours? Because OIT has become a 24×7 operation and there are no longer enough people to do the job while HR refuses to compensate the existing employees for their time. A policy to limit hours or to provide incentive for excessive hours should be in place and is a necessity when staffing does not meet operational needs.

They complain because we are “reactive”.

The people that use the services of OIT have always wanted it done yesterday, yet HR treats the need for 24×7 staffing, constant maintenance, repairs, and responding to troubles in the same way as projects. They say we should have planned ahead for the situations. The lack of staffing is blamed on OIT.

Then there is the failure of customers to listen when skilled IT professionals try to describe the problems and offer solutions.

When senior level IT people try to tell you why something will not work, listen to them. Nothing is more frustrating to an IT professional than to be told to do something when they know it is the wrong way to solve a problem or issue, and to have their input ignored.

There will always be differences of opinion, but differences that are listened to and discussed provide an employee with a sense of worth and the employer with a valuable check and balance system to control projects. Ignoring reasoning and experience will lead to project development with bad design and missing requirements. The result will be “do overs” and wasted time because identification and evaluation of project need were not done to begin with.

The attitude of many employers destroys morale as IT employees feel they are regarded as disposable. The State of Maine has not created a valid career path or provided training for members of their IT department, blaming cost. The real cost of replacing good employees must be considered. Technical skills, problem solving skills, and experience with the State Government are very hard to come by.

In order to resolve the shortage training should be increased for all for employees. New job descriptions should be created with the aim of integration with a clearly definable career ladder with appropriate pay scales in order to provide incentive for highly skilled technicians that may not want to make the move to management.

IT changes every six months and failure to learn these new technologies will cause OIT to become dysfunctional. Employees that can move to another job will leave and new employees won’t want to join an outfit where they will stay in a rut and never advance in skills.

It costs too much.

IT professionals have skill sets that promote the ability to pick up the latest stuff on the fly, and quickly. To counter the cost argument look at how much it costs to replace workers. Add in the hours of all the people involved in recruiting, HR writing applications and job descriptions, recruiting interviews. Add the cost of bringing the new hire up to speed at a low productivity rate for up to six months. After considering all of this try to tell me that training and developing a fair pay scale for existing workers is too expensive — that it’s cheaper to replace them or just do without the skills

As long as HR refuses to admit that IT skills and hours worked must be paid for and continues to force CIOs and their immediate staff to limit the definition of IT skills to generic descriptions written by HR that are already twenty years out of date, descriptions that by their very nature limit the IT career path, instead of recognizing that what makes an IT employee valuable is smarts and experience the situation will get worse.

Don’t Forget!

PLEASE TAKE THE BARGAINING SURVEY AND MAKE YOUR IDEAS COUNT.

There is a Bargaining summit coming up on May 10. Do you think things should be done differently? Have you ever asked why something was done? Show up and make yourself heard.
During the bargaining for the 2007-2009 contract your bargaining team found the bargaining survey gave our teams more input and information than had ever been received before. This site and your Union are both collecting ideas now. Your ideas count!

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March 27th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

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