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Tuesday, 23 October 2012 21:39

IT workers chase certificates, not leadership

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A new study has found that many IT workers have little interest in advancing their careers to leadership roles, preferring to focus on technical skills that will help them land their next job.

The online survey of 414 IT professionals, just released by specialist IT recruitment agency, Ambition, found that only a quarter of IT employees would be interested in undertaking management studies, while most IT workers – or 45 per cent -  indicated that they would choose to obtain vendor or industry certificates if they were to study.

According to the Managing Director for Ambition, technology, Andrew Cross the transient nature of the IT industry means that employees “primarily have a transactional approach to progressing their career.”

“In their view, the more skills and certificates they have, the better their career trajectory. Core skills are essential, but employers also need senior IT staff with a solid understanding of business goals and processes, and team management skills.”

The Ambition report also found that less than a fifth of the IT workforce had access to professional career progression plans in their organisation, but Cross cautioned that IT staff who don’t have a clear vision of the career opportunities within a company “may lack a sense of allegiance to one employer.”

“To retain top IT talent amid the skills shortage, employers need to provide ongoing training and development programs and map career pathways for permanent employees,” he said.

However, Cross also said that employees needed to take charge of their careers and “look beyond merely getting the next job.”

The Ambition research showed that for 59 per cent of IT workers, employer provided training was nice to have but not essential when considering a new role, while 46 percent of IT workers would study just to keep pace with the skills needed for the industry.

“IT workers who started their careers in the dot.com boom days of the 1990s were happy to move from project to project, developing a portable technical skill set without the responsibility of managing a team.

“We are still seeing this attitude today; employees rely on being able to pick up new skills on the job, rather than pushing for formal training and development.”

Cross concluded, however, that the IT industry was growing so fast that employees with more than 10 years’ experience “should be looking beyond a skills-based approach to securing their next role and focus on moving into management roles.”

The top findings of the Ambition Career Progression Survey were:

•    45% of workers would undertake vendor and industry training to help with their next career move; 25% would undertake management training

•    19% of IT workers have no access to career progression plans

•    59% of IT workers say training is nice to have but not essential when considering a new role

•    46% of IT workers are motivated to study to keep pace with the skills needed for the industry; 26% to diversify their skill set

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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).

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