HUMAN RESOURCES service providers are increasingly frustrated by a lack of experienced, qualified staff, and organisations are going to great lengths to attract and retain the right people, according to Tony de Liseo, managing director of Bond International Software (China). The shortage was a result of insufficient staff training in large organisations, he said, and the impact of this was being felt across the board as companies were unable to find the staff to help them grow. 'We've got opportunities that we can't get on top of because we just don't have the staff for some of these projects. Obviously, that is impacting us in terms of what we can deliver to our clients, but it is also impacting on revenue and growth,' he said. 'We are having to pay external consultant rates for work that you would normally have done internally. So, whereas traditionally you would have been able to make margin on some of the components of a project, you are finding that you have to give that whole margin away,' he said. IPL Research managing consultant Vinton Lam Man-wah said that, in particular, HR service providers were short of payroll officers who had experience in HR and were familiar with labour law, taxation and MPF requirements. Technical staff were also needed to help develop and research the software systems in use. 'From time to time we have to upgrade our system according to the latest technology platform and to business requirements,' Mr Lam said. 'We mainly recruit fresh graduates from university with a background in computing.' But Mr de Liseo said pure technical skills were not enough. HR service providers needed IT specialists who were also familiar with customer relations strategies. 'A lot of those [customer relations skills] are totally missing,' he said. 'We have to spend an awful lot of money training account managers because, even though universities will turn out people who are skilled in programming, they do not understand the customer focus of the job.' Companies are increasingly looking abroad to fill HR positions and are hoping to attract staff with financial, lifestyle and career path incentives.