For a number of years now, Norway and the Norwegian economy has benefited enormously from oil and gas. This has given us advantages many countries can only dream of. Logically, it has also defined to a great extent the landscape of our economy. If we look into the future, we can see a diminution coming. Both supply and demand are falling and like many oil-rich states, we should now be planning a future with significantly less of these natural resources. To drive the real economy and maintain our standard of living, we have in a sense to climb back into the global economic battle and stake our claim in the grand scheme of things.
We will probably never be able to export enough salmon to replace diminishing oil and gas income. But, there is one industry that is outgrowing all others. One, which is changing the way we live our lives in all aspects: the IT industry.
Norway is playing its part in the digital revolution but has significant barriers to overcome. The heart of the problem is not legislative, it’s not lack of innovation, ideas and opportunities. It’s lack of talent. The talent gap at present has a number: 8700. This is the number of vacancies in our IT industry that are not being filled. Paradoxically the recent history that has served us so well is now proving a block to our progress. The overwhelming majority of qualified engineers are in the fields of oil and gas. Furthermore, efforts at increasing the number of IT graduates will not even scratch the surface. At present, 800 students graduate with a master’s degree in IT related subjects annually. The job market is already consuming them, and still, we have open positions of almost 9.000. Parliament is debating – debating – increasing this number by 500 coming years. It is great to get more qualified staff onto the market, but we’re looking at a wait of at least 7 years before these people come on stream. By then the gap will have grown not shrunk. Looked at rationally, these people should be employed as high up the value chain as possible. Not as software developers, but in the field of business vision, innovation, product development, research and development: Norway is a small country that needs leverage and Norway needs it now. And it’s available…
The biggest IT skills deficit throughout the developed economies worldwide is software developers. The industry is maturing; organisational know-how and best practices are now tried and tested. Agile is the key word. When used with respect, it’s what can make SW development a stable process through various stations in one company, through various companies and through distributed teams in various locations. Whilst the industry has been growing, so have many suppliers in the industry. The common perception of what is referred to as outsourcing – a mild form of Russian roulette for business whereby you send requirements halfway around the world to people you’ve never met – this in no way reflects what industry leaders are doing nowadays.
If a capacity problem is putting a brake on the development of new and vital industries in Norway, the laws of supply and demand mean that somewhere there is a solution. There are a number of modern, agile premium suppliers on the market. Many of them are within a couple of hours and one time zone of Norway. Countries like Ukraine and Belarus are attractive. Competition in this sphere is fierce. Like everywhere in a market economy, competition forces suppliers to provide an ever-improving service: one that meets industry demands most closely.
Norway has a limited workforce that can’t now cope with demand and won’t be able to in future. On a global scale, the workforce is highly educated, innovative and sits rightly at the top of the value chain. We need to concentrate now on driving business and make the best use of the excellent solutions that exist outside our borders in order to realise our potential. The days of the carbon fuel boom are numbered. The IT industry will play a large part – may be the largest – in filling the gap it leaves.
IT companies in Norway: make sure you’re not missing out today – find out about how you can use modern and reliable nearshorers to realise your potential. And, do it now!
This is a guest post by Dagfinn A. Mork. He has a career within product development and project management. He is also a former IT- entrepreneur. He has worked for years in Belgium, Denmark, Sri Lanka USA and Ukraina besides his native Norway. He currently holds a position as Country Manager for sourcing company Conscensia.
Interesting? Share it with your peers!