By many indications, the economy has shifted to expansion mode, and businesses are gearing up for renewed growth. The pace of this growth depends in large part on information technology -- the key to smart measurement, analysis and service to customer segments and markets. Are today’s IT college graduates up to the task? Are they entering the workforce with the right sets of skills that companies now so critically need? Are companies getting the skills they expect, or is additional training required?
In a new survey of 376 employers, conducted by Unisphere Research, a majority report that they depend on the educational sector -- universities and colleges -- to provide graduates with specific IT skills in enterprise programming languages and mainframe administration skills, as well as business skills such as problem-solving and communications abilities. However, few companies are entirely satisfied with the readiness of graduates.
Key findings include:
-- One out of four companies are concerned about the technical aptitude of job candidates, but there is even greater concern about their lack of business skills. Close to four out of 10 report that their IT hires are not sufficiently prepared to perform jobs within their companies, and another 44% say at a minimum there are notable gaps in skills. Some remedial skills training is always needed; only 8% would rate their IT hires as “well-trained, ready to go.”
-- Employers overwhelmingly agree that colleges and universities need to provide the essential skills required to run IT departments. Seventy-seven percent look to educational institutions to provide programming skills, 82% look for database skills, 76% look for analysis and architectural skills. Along with appropriate technical skills, eight out of 10 companies seek problem-solving and technical skills.
-- About half of the companies in the survey hire new IT employees straight out of school, with relatively little actual working experience. Ideally, most would like to see at least a year of on-the-job experience—especially among smaller companies. A majority require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in their new IT hires, and in most cases, the preferred degree is a computer science degree. Two out of three companies seek college intern experience among IT hires.
-- Six out of 10 companies will be hiring programmers and developers over the coming year, and seek skills in application server environments, database languages, and Java. COBOL is still sought as a skill by almost four out of 10 companies.
-- Many companies seek skills that help manage IT risk. Administration skills most in demand include backup and recovery, storage administration, security, and disaster recovery.
-- Demand for applications managers is not as acute as in other skill categories. The strongest demand among companies seeking ERP skills is for professionals who can run custom-built ERP applications, PeopleSoft and SAP.
-- About one-third of companies are seeking professionals and managers that can bridge the divides between IT departments and business leaders. Project management, analytics/business intelligence, and enterprise architecture skills are in demand by more than half of the companies surveyed.
More information on IT skills can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com.