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Not fully equipped for their job, say IT professionals

The majority of Australia’s IT professionals say their higher education has not equipped them sufficiently for their current IT role and, according to one company which researched the Australian market, there’s a need for more generalist skill sets and practical experience to cope with accelerating network complexity.

According to SolarWinds, a global provider of IT management software, the growing complexity in the network area points to a potential skills gap in the future.

The research conducted by SolarWinds found that only 11%of Australian IT professionals surveyed agreed that that their higher education sufficiently prepared them for their current IT role, while more than a third (36% ) agreed that understanding broader business objectives and priorities was the single most important skillset required to tackle today’s challenges of network complexity.

According to Sanjay Castelino, VP and Market Leader, SolarWinds, the research suggests today’s IT professionals are “increasingly going beyond the server room to drive results across their organisations, with many anticipating a skills gap without sufficient training.”

“With IT skills continuing to dominate Australia’s business and technology conversations, we need to recognise that simply boosting graduate numbers or outsourcing technical roles won’t solve the fundamental challenges faced by our industries.

“Technology leaders and educators need to take a more practical, long-term approach to training and learning if they want to prepare their people for the intricacy and interconnectedness of tomorrow’s IT ecosystem.”

Castelino says the Australian IT and higher education sectors need to work together more in order to provide the right balance of theoretical and practical knowledge to effectively manage and capitalise on fast-paced technological change.

“It’s impossible to accurately predict what factors will most contribute to network complexity in the future, but a combination of basic skills and ongoing education will put the next generation of IT talent in good stead to handle any challenge.”

Castelino points to the research findings showing that 25% of IT professionals cited skills in cloud and software-as-a-service as the most important factor for handling network complexity in five years’ time, more than the 21% who identified it to be an understanding of their business.

When asked how they would acquire the skills needed to combat network complexity:

•    Almost 60% of respondents said they would obtain additional training, while 45% would focus on increasing their experience organically or “on the job”

•    Less than 7% said they would return to university to seek another degree, and

•    Only one in every two respondents agreed that their higher education had sufficiently prepared them for their current IT role to some extent.

“To cope with network complexity’s inevitable upsurge, businesses and educators alike need to invest in generalist IT skill sets which can adapt to any new trend or challenge. Only by fostering these multi-purpose skills, and supplementing them with ongoing training and modular, adaptable tools to match, can Australian businesses position themselves for success in an ever more complex IT world,” Castelino concluded.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).