their year-2000 specialists.
But this could be a serious error, says Judy B. Homer, president of New York executive search firm J.B. Homer Associates Inc.
Banks are desperate to find skilled employees to run their computer systems and Internet operations, and year-2000 consultants may be just the folks for the job.
"There is really a tremendous shortage of technology-savvy people out there," said Ms. Homer, whose firm has placed executives in technology-related positions at Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan & Co., and ABN Amro. "The smart companies will be retraining their internal Y2K specialists to specialize in e-commerce technology."
Demand is high across industries for technology talent, especially for professionals with Internet-related know-how. The ability of "dot-com" companies -- on-line retail businesses or those otherwise closely linked to the Internet -- to recruit high-tech workers away from banks has taken its toll, experts say.
These companies often dangle large stock-option packages to lure these employees. The siren song of the Internet has thinned the ranks of on-line operations at banking companies, in part because bank employees have sought-after expertise, especially in the areas of bill presentment and Web payments.
Though a substantial amount of Y2K work involves mainframe computers, some bank employees dealing with the millennium bug worked on large databases and client-server systems, Ms. Homer said. These skills easily translate into the electronic commerce area, she said.
"A lot of the work has been very network oriented," she said. "So there are a lot of skills that could be quite easily transferred with some training."
One firm moving to take advantage of the growing need is Chubb Computer Services, a staffing and training subsidiary of Warren, N.J.-based insurance firm Chubb Corp. The unit retrains employees who specialize in mainframes to handle Web-based technology. Chubb Computer Services is doing this for one large New York banking company, said vice president Thomas E. Martin.
"We are getting a very high level of interest in reskilling from the financial community," Mr. Martin said.
The training is intense, he added. Chubb first tests to make sure employees have the aptitude to learn new skills. Those that do go through a 40-day, "full-immersion" training program.
In addition, a company's willingness to retrain staff for new positions can lead to better employee loyalty.
The bottom line, says Mr. Martin, is that "investing in employees this way leads to better retention."