Ways out of the skills shortage in the IT sector: Software-Cluster publishes study on qualification requirements

Presseinformation / 8.9.2011

Darmstadt, 23rd August 2011 – A current study confirms the rising demand for specialists in the software industry in the region of the German Software-Cluster around the cities of Darmstadt, Kaiserslautern, Karlsruhe und Saarbrücken. The study recommends better coordination between course content and the requirements of practice and the development of dual study courses as a major solution steps.

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Skilled workers are desperately sought in the software industry - particularly acute is the shortage of skilled workers in the German Software-Cluster around the cities of Darmstadt, Kaiserslautern, Karlsruhe and Saarbrücken, where the software industry is an important location factor with a regularly increasing demand for highly-qualified junior specialists. Therefore the Software-Cluster carried out a study addressing the shortage of specialists and the need for higher qualification in the enterprises of the region. Based on this study recommendations for the adaption and development of qualifications were developed.

The key findings of the study “Securing IT specialists by raising qualification” and their recommendations for future action are:

Demand for skilled workers continues to rise / Make available more master’s degree courses:

The demand for skilled labor grows at all skill levels, however it particularly concerns master’s graduates. 70 per cent of the companies surveyed already face problems in finding qualified master’s or Ph.D. graduates. Therefore, a sufficient number of master degree courses should be made available beyond the bachelor courses so that more students can learn further.

Dual study programs to expand:

The study identifies a need for action in assuring that students are constantly and permeably qualified starting from a computer science diploma course up towards the master’s degree. Therefore, there should be more vocational courses of study available leading to bachelor and master degrees.

Better match between course contents and practical requirements needed:

There is a mismatch between the requirements of the companies and the qualifications of the applicants. Graduates often lack key competences such as project management; in addition they lack practical experience and soft skills such as communication and social skills. A lack of economic and technical expertise is also emphasized. 70 per cent of the companies surveyed indicate that applicants lack the combination of IT and business know-how.

Dr. Thomas Kamps, managing director of conweaver GmbH, Darmstadt, formulates the requirements for tomorrow’s specialists as follows: “The desired employee of the future would look like this - on one the side he has had an outstanding technical training, on the other side he is very communicative and socially well integrated and at best can also sell our products well”.

Dr. Roland Lentz, Head of the division Innovation and Environment of the Darmstadt Chamber of Trade and Commerce, notes: “The specialists of tomorrow do not only require knowledge of computer science, mathematics and programming, but they also must be talented to understand others and have an intercultural understanding in general. These qualities we certainly have to develop in the university and in further advanced educational programs”.

Authors of this study are the Darmstadt Chamber of Trade and Commerce together with southern Hesse enterprise network IT FOR WORK, Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering in Kaiserslautern and the Saarland Computer Science Competence Center.

The results of the study will be discussed on 5 October 2011 in the Darmstadt Chamber of Trade and Commerce with representatives from science and economics of the Software-Cluster region starting at 5 pm. The discussion will be moderated by Alexander Schmitt of the Hessian Broadcasting (Hessischer Rundfunk).

Data source: Companies in the Software-Cluster region were asked to participate in an online survey between March and May 2011. 50 companies responded. The online survey was complemented by a written and telephone-based expert survey carried out among the partners of the Software-Cluster.