Auto suppliers face growing gaps in employee information technology skills as they dial back on information technology investments, a new study finds.
About half of the suppliers surveyed say they suffer from an information technology skills gap.
One in five reported major gaps, particularly in mid- and junior skill levels.
"We're finding that they have a gap in terms of the types of skills they need to deliver effective programs," says Jeff Glueck, a Deloitte Consulting LLP partner.
"It's not the career development opportunity it was in the past, when it was a very lucrative and productive manufacturing environment. So it's harder to find the best talent."
The Original Equipment Suppliers Association, of Troy, Mich., and Deloitte surveyed 29 information technology executives at mostly first- and second-tier automotive and aftermarket suppliers.
The study was made public June 1.
Overall, suppliers spent about 1.2 percent of revenues on information technology during 2005, up slightly compared with 2004.
But they spent 56 percent less on information technology than their peers in other manufacturing segments.
Other key findings:
- Most suppliers consider information technology companies as low-cost service providers, not business partners.
- About 20 percent of the suppliers say only half of their information technology projects are finished on time. Nearly 20 percent say only half are completed within budget.
The survey concluded that by not investing in information technology projects, automotive suppliers face a self-perpetuating cycle: Lack of investment results in projects not being completed on time, which prompts frustrated employees to leave, which further erodes a company's information technology capabilities.
The turnover rate for auto supplier info tech staffs is only 6 percent. But the companies "are not getting a lot of the young, innovative, aggressive IT talent that's ready to make a huge difference in the marketplace," Glueck says.
"It's a little demoralizing. IT hasn't been a place where they've continued to innovate because they've been so cost-focused."
Glueck says auto suppliers must better measure the value that information technology projects bring to the company.
He also says suppliers must improve the management of projects and tools, and attract new, young talent to the industry.
You may e-mail Ralph Kisiel at [email protected]