The shape of the working world has changed – and this is no more apparent than in the ever-growing list of skills and competencies required by modern employers. Jobs exist now that were unheard of a decade ago, and it is a constant challenge to present as new what many young graduates see as old-fashioned or outdated roles.
At ICS Skills, our focus is on IT professionals, and even that term has become substantially broader. Are they the coders and programmers, or are they marketers with advanced analytical knowledge? As providers of professional training, this ambiguity is a constant challenge to overcome.
We spoke with Aideen Howe, Head of Learning and Development at ICS Skills, to get her perspective on this dynamic IT landscape.
“What strikes me most is job titles” Aideen began. “For many roles, the titles have remained while the skills have changed – Programmer, Web Developer, Web Designer, etc. This makes it harder to track changing skills needs. For others, entirely new titles have been invented to accommodate emerging roles. And even roles not seen as traditional IT ones demand a minimum skills requirement in IT,” Aideen continued.
Designing training to satisfy these roles can be a real challenge. It’s not just about a core set of skills anymore. Adaptability is a vital trait.
“It is a challenge, of course, employers always expect more. We always design our training with that in mind.” Aideen said.
“Data Protection is a good example, a topic relevant for any business. Roles like Data Protection Officer, Data Protection Consultant, Chief Information Officer and a range of others are emerging in response to an increasing need to secure the business.
We developed our 3-Day Data Protection Practitioner course because we recognised that everyone in a business is responsible for the personal data they deal with – so we targeted our training towards a broader audience. Our Advanced Data Protection courses, on the other hand, were developed in response to the EU General Data Protection Regulation and impending legal changes. More applied, but still relevant to everyone.”
Despite the diversity of courses we provide, we take the same approach with all of them.
“It is true that a Certificate in Business Analysis will qualify you as a business analyst in the purest sense” Aideen commented.
“But the skills picked up throughout those 6 months will enable you to achieve far more, filling roles that once never demanded analytical insight.”
Beyond how we design our training, there is a prevalent mentality among young people that their IT skills are sufficient to enter and thrive in the digital workforce. In most cases, this is not true.
“The so-called “digital fallacy” is something we are always trying to debunk. It’s about a few things: young people see a traditional IT role and assume their Computer Science degree will be enough. Or, they underestimate what skills they need for supposedly “non-IT” roles, and fall short at the first hurdle. The fact is that now, every role has elements of IT, so a commitment to professional development in IT is less of an option than a requirement.”
“This is a commitment that should be made by all IT professionals, particularly those with years of experience behind them. Competition is fierce, and it’s a constant battle to keep up to date,“ Aideen said.
In 2017, we will be launching a new course on IT Asset Management to help with this. ITAM is a role born out of a need to control costs, reduce risk and improve business value through effective management of IT asset life cycles. Tying closely with IT Service Management, Asset Management is a set of skills shared by budget managers, IT service departments and finance.
Coming out in top in an era of digital transformation and skills gaps is a difficult challenge, but one that we are constantly striving to overcome.