What´s new in the world of Skills 1/2011

Studies on demographic change and IT trends in universities and industry.

We again took the opportunity of presenting our solutions at this year’s CeBIT where we met with huge interest. In fact, the level of interest was so great that we had no choice but to abandon the IT skill study for this year.

Which is why I would like to begin by drawing your attention to another interesting study in the IT field which has recently appeared. In January e-Skills UK pointed out that the IT sector in the United Kingdom is set to grow at an above-average pace and is expected to create 110,000 new jobs, 17% of which will have to be filled by people coming directly from school or university. The fact that the UK too is experiencing significant demographic change is also underlined by other figures in the study:

The share of under-30 year olds fell from 33% in 2001 to just 19% in 2010 while the proportion of over-50 year olds almost doubled to 17% . At the same time, only 18% of al IT professionals are female. A summary of the report can be found and downloaded (after cost-free registration) here.

Of course, the nature of these figures is already very familiar to us here in Germany. The conclusion can only be that, as in the United Kingdom, more money needs to be invested in training, always bearing in mind just how much IT skills management can contribute to higher efficiency.

According to the findings of a study undertaken by the “IBM user group Share and Database Trends and Applications subscribers” reviewed by Michael Cooney for Networkworld the skills which university graduates in the USA are able to offer do not always meet the expectations of industry. Despite this, half of companies still set their sights on graduates, although one third again look for recruits who have one placement semester under their belt. Programming, database, analysis, architecture and problem-solving capabilities are the set of skills most sought in new graduates.

A new eSkills initiative is launched every year to coincide with the CeBIT. This year’s Chancenrepublik Deutschland initiative was kicked off in a blaze of publicity by Angela Merkel and Microsoft at the CeBIT. At least this is one way of getting young people interested in IT, including those who have been relatively ill served by the traditional educational system.

Whether this will be enough to counter the risks of the growing skills shortage remains to be seen. A great deal will depend on good cooperation between universities and industry.

This article cites a good example of practice-oriented, interdisciplinary training in the shape of the Austrian Standard. While soft skills are often overrated, as we now know since the 2009 IT skills study, in certain contexts they can however be helpful for a person’s career – when, as is the case here, they contribute to the creativity and business know-how of multimedia developers.

But how do things stand with executives, the classic territory for qualified professionals with excellent soft skills?

Werner Kurzlechner reports in an article in cio.de on a US talent management study undertaken by Development Dimensions International (DDI) which contends that executive development is still at the teething stage in many places. Although 22% of the surveyed managers regard themselves and their leadership skills as excellent, they were forced by further questioning to admit to deficits and a lack of preparation for their management roles. The report reveals that technical expertise is the main reason for promotion to management positions, while social skills in contrast are neglected. We are glad to support the self-assessment of up-and-coming executive personnel with a management assessment of our own.

However, technical skills are as important as ever for IT managers and decision makers. The most important skills have recently been identified by Network World. Karin Quack from the German sister publication Computerwoche has listed essential skills for IT decision makers.

Virtualisation, service management from the Cloud, unified computing, (ever)green IT, resource management, engineering, network know-how and business skills such as financial analyses, project management and communication are the ten indispensable IT skills needed at the outset of the second decade. Business IT alignment is again perceived here as the most important aspect alongside technical skills.

Finally, we take another look at one of this year’s CeBIT events:

The Handelsblatt, in cooperation with management consultants Droege & Comp., presented the market study “What is moving IT decision makers in 2011?” at the CeBIT 2011. 315 IT managers were asked about how they would invest the 3.6% extra money being ploughed into IT budgets. Research and development as well as consolidation and adjustments to IT architecture were the clear favourites. Windows remains the no 1 operating system; Apple’s Mac OS fails to get past the 1% market share despite the growing importance of mobile devices and apps, including for business.

One new development is the appearance of human resources management software among the top 10 topics. We can only welcome this trend.

CIO.de’s summary of some of the study findings can be read here.