With the IT industry in a constant state of growth and evolution, how can IT professionals keep their skills up-to-date with the market?
It is a well-known fact that the Australian IT industry is continuing to experience rapid expansion. As a result there are many positions available to advance your career in IT if you have the necessary skills.
“The contribution from ICT to Australia’s economy, and our successfully meeting our productivity challenges, are at risk if we don’t ensure there is an adequate workforce equipped with the necessary ICT skills. We urgently need to boost both awareness and opportunity around ICT skills development,” says Deloitte’s Access Economics direct John O’Mahony.
IT specialists therefore need to actively strive to keep their skills current in order to benefit not only their own professional development, but also the projected prosperity of the industry in Australia.
How can you ensure your skills are current?
While keeping their skills up-to-date is a concern for workers in many different industries, certain methods for doing so are more appropriate for specialist careers than others.
A 2015 survey by the University of Washington reveals a number of ways that IT professionals enhance their current skills. The most commonly used method by IT staff is researching a topic online, with 85 per cent of respondents claiming to have done it. This statistic may suggest a level of self-motivation in purposefully acquiring new knowledge, which bodes well for the future of the industry.
Other popular ways that respondents improved their skills include attending a web seminar, reading a white paper and attending a conference, followed by self-directed online research.
From this survey we can see a trend towards informal methods of learning among IT professionals, however, a 2013 report by Global Knowledge claims that 82 per cent still reported participating in instructor-led training.
So which skills should you focus on?
Because IT is such a diverse industry, it can be difficult for professionals to discern which skill areas to pursue.
According to the Global Knowledge report, there are several skills that are most often developed, the highest of which is skills in Microsoft services and products, with 50 per cent of respondents claiming it also had a positive impact on their salary. Yet to be truly current, those working in IT will also want to look ahead to emerging skills that will be increasingly desired in the future. Global Knowledge predicts these top future skills will include virtualisation or cloud, security, and network administration.
While an IT recruiter can help you to match your existing skills with a vacancy, it also is beneficial to your career to be proactive and take responsibility for keeping your skills current in an industry that is constantly evolving.