Select Tech Skills in High Demand

By Ericka Chickowski  |  Posted 2008-04-23 Print this article Print

Baseline takes a look at specific areas of IT job shortages.

Select Tech Skills in High Demand
For all the talk of the need for IT candidates to develop their business acumen, there are also a number of specific technical skills that headhunters and CIOs say are in short supply. Security is one example.

A recent survey of 3,500 IT professionals and employers conducted by CompTIA found that 74 percent of respondents listed security skills as the top qualifications needed by their IT departments, but only 57 percent said their employees were proficient in security. This 17-point gap between need and proficiency was the largest among the 10 categories listed in the survey, including soft skills and networking skills and Web-based technology.

“Security is top of mind and at the top of lists for everybody that we surveyed for every geography, every industry and every size of business,” Ostrowski says. “So everybody has security on their minds and rightfully so because it has gotten a lot of attention recently and a security breach could be catastrophic for business.”

Some wonder how long this skill shortfall will persist, though. As a recruiter, Martineau says he’s seen the critical need for security pros cool down in the past few years as awareness and training have improved.

“I don’t think they’re nearly as hot as they used to be; a couple of years ago, yeah, everyone and their brother was out there getting their CISSPs [Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification],” he says. “We’re not seeing the need as much anymore.”

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However, Martineau has the hardest time finding senior developers with sufficient Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE) skills and Web 2.0 application skills. Janet Miller, a headhunter for the high-tech recruiting firm Computer Management, has had similar experiences.

“It seems like there are plenty of networking people; there aren’t enough software developers with the right specific skills,” she explains.

For example, service-oriented architecture (SOA) and .NET developers are in high demand, but COBOL programmers can’t find a job, and even C++ developers have seen things dry up, she says. In most instances, Martineau believes that the need in these particular developer competencies comes in conjunction with senior-level experience or additional management skills.

“We have lots clients who are looking for people who have hands on Java/J2EE skills, but who’ve also been managing people over the last few years. So they need strong management skills and strong tactical skills,” he says. “A lot of times, those people don’t exist. Those are the searches I’m not interested in.”

One of the difficulties and opportunities of tech is that it changes fast. New needs for technical proficiency consistently crop up. The trick is to foresee what the next big need will be and train people before it becomes an issue.
CompTIA predicts that the next large gap will likely be in wireless skills. 

“Those people who obtain some training or skill development in the wireless computing and communications area are going to be in good shape in the not-too-distant future,” Ostrowski says. “Five years from now, everybody is going to want wireless people because everybody wants to improve mobile computing, and those skills are going to be very relevant.”


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