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Training needs are changing

The type of training required by IT professionals is changing, according to the CEO of a major training provider.

The continuing trend to outsourcing and offshoring means employers are looking for different skill sets from employees, so training and certification in process and people skills are becoming important if you want to keep working.

DDLS CEO Mal Shaw (pictured) told iTWire that outsourcing and offshoring mean there is reduced demand for staff with systems and network administration skills, but organisations do realise that it is best to use IT staff with appropriate process skills to manage relationships with providers.

He described these people as 'T-shaped professionals' where the vertical stroke describes their IT skills and the horizontal represents soft skills, consulting and marketing expertise, and so on.

The role of such people isn't limited to provider relationship management, he said. With the growing tendency for IT expenditure to occur outside of IT departments, it's important that IT professionals are still involved in decision making.

Line of business and IT staff need to be part of the process in order to ensure that the organisation gets what it wants and manages the risks appropriately. To this end, training and certification in ITIL (practices for IT service management), PRINCE2 (project management), COBIT (enterprise IT management) and related best practices are increasingly sought by employers.

That said, DDLS still offers a wide range of training in traditional IT skills, and has been recognised by high-profile vendors including Cisco, Citrix, Microsoft and VMware.

There are also changes in the way IT-related training is being delivered, according to Mr Shaw. While traditional 'instructor in a classroom' delivery is still the mainstay, around half the students aren't in the same room as the instructor. Instead, they are participating via telepresence from rooms at other DDLS offices, thus reducing travel and accommodation costs.

The company is considering giving its clients the option of joining courses via telepresence from their own offices, but there is some concern that this would lead to an increase in the number of people failing to complete courses as it becomes so much easier to drag them away to deal with an 'urgent' problem that wouldn't be deemed sufficiently important to have them travel back from a remote location.

Although it is part of NTT-owned Dimension Data, DDLS operates as a separate business, Mr Shaw said, though it partners with Dimension Data and other companies "when training needs to be part of a project."

It has around 100 staff and 150 contract instructors, and operates from seven locations. Clients include major government departments and the country's largest companies.

DDLS's history goes back to 1991 when it was set up as Com Tech Education Services to provide training to Com Tech's resellers. South Africa based Dimension Data completed its acquisition of Com Tech in 2001, and Dimension Data was in turn acquired by Japan based NTT in 2010.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.