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Tue 1 Aug 2006 12:00 AM

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Skills shortage poses danger to it projects

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Huge networking and IT skills shortages across the region could leave organisations struggling to complete projects, and losing millions of dollars as a result, experts have warned.

By 2009 there could be a networking skills shortage of over 40% in Kuwait and Jordan, a 30 to 40% shortage in Saudi Arabia and in the UAE a 20- to 30% shortfall, according to an IDC study commissioned by networking vendor Cisco Systems.

The study claimed that in 2005 there were already shortages of 30 to 40% in Kuwait and 20 to 30% in the UAE, Jordan and Saudi.

Dr. Habib Talhami, head of the Institute of Informatics at the British University in Dubai (BuiD) said that he believes the region is facing a massive shortage of IT managers and project management professionals and claimed it was the norm for projects to be delayed as a result.

Samer Alkharrat, general manager of Cisco Systems, added that the networking skills shortage across the region was costing companies and public sector organisations millions of dollars and was to blame for advanced networking technology failing to take off in the Middle East.

“It’s difficult to measure but it’s definitely millions of dollars.

Government projects are normally the ones that are more visible in the country,” he said.

“You see a little bit of slowdown in those and you see more baselining in

those.

The ones that are less visible are the enterprise ones because they are more private,” he continued.

Although Cisco’s predictions for the UAE were relatively favourable compared to other

countries in the region, the massive economic growth in the country and corresponding increase in demand for networking skills could have a major impact.

At present there is a shortage of 9,400 networking professionals in the region - a skills shortage of 23%.

This is forecast to rise to 27% in 2009 with a shortage of 19,000 professionals

and a 34% shortage of those qualified to deploy advanced technologies.

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