Global Economics

Skill Shortage Hits RFID Growth


Radio frequency identification is significantly hampered by the shortage of IT professionals who are trained in the technology

The IT industry is facing a shortage of professionals well-versed in RFID (radio frequency identification) technology, and this could affect the adoption of the technology, warned a senior official at Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).

According to Michael Mudd, the industry body's Asia-Pacific director of public policy, there are fewer than 1,000 qualified IT professionals available worldwide who understand and know enough to deploy and service RFID technology. Mudd was in town for the RFID Connect Asia held here last week.

For instance, Mudd said, compared with the "hundreds of thousands" of technicians who are certified by CompTIA or other IT vendors such as Cisco Systems, and skilled in fixing PCs or servers, the current number of available RFID skilled workers is "very low".

In an interview with ZDNet Asia, he noted: "It's probably one of the things that's keeping back the deployment of the [RFID] technology."

Companies do not simply consider the cost of buying the technology when they look at deploying RFID, he added. "It's [also about] the cost of maintaining, training, servicing [and] replacement of spare parts," Mudd said.

"The RFID skills shortage must be addressed to help drive down implementation costs and make a better ROI (returns on investment) case", he said.

Mudd cautioned that the skills dearth can prove to be the next biggest inhibitor of successful RFID deployment after customers cross the implementation hurdle.

According to preliminary results of a CompTIA survey conducted in February this year, which polled 56 members from the industry group, 69.6 percent of the respondents indicated that there is an insufficient RFID talent pool. Some 64.7 percent also believed that the lack of skilled individuals will affect the adoption of RFID.

Mudd said: "RFID is not yet a plug-and-play technology. Each deployment is unique, and within each deployment, any number of variables can affect its success or failure."

"Most of the [RFID] skills that are lacking are in the areas of understanding how the physics of radio frequencies work, and how to tag items so that they are readable," he said.

He noted that to execute any RFID initiative successfully, there needs to be trained and certified professionals with knowledge and experience in radio frequency engineering and design, supply chain management, logistics, warehouse management, and familiarity in RFID products and standards.

According to CompTIA, the industry body has worked with over 20 organizations with "leadership positions in RFID technology" to develop an industry-accepted credential that validates a technician's knowledge and skills in the areas of installation, maintenance, repair and upkeep of hardware and software functionality of RFID products. For instance, the CompTIA RFID+ is a vendor-neutral certification that addresses critical skills related to the installation, maintenance, repair and troubleshooting of hardware and software functionality of RFID products.

Provided by ZDNet Asia—Where Technology Means Business

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