The top skills that are transforming IT education

The new dean of technology at triOS College talks about how employers can influence the next generation of curricula — and find the next generation of IT professionals

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As organizations today continue to adopt new technologies and share more information, the need for technology-savvy people who understand those technologies increases.  But what does this mean exactly?

Well, for many organizations, it means that they will have to either grow existing IT staff into new roles, or hire additional people trained in those technologies.  For colleges, including triOS College, it means radically changing the way we approach IT education.  After extensive industry research and multiple Program Advisory Councils (PACs) with key employers, internship hosts, graduates and industry vendors, we found out that:

  • Communication and time management are the most asked-for IT skills by employers.
  • Longer internships are vital to giving students the real life experience they need to be successful within the IT industry.
  • Nearly all jobs require some form of customer support.  This includes. Windows support, mobile device support, and network support.
  • Most IT administration jobs are focused on key areas, and IT professionals are required to know more than “just the basics” in these areas.   The most common of these areas from our research included Windows Server administration, Active Directory administration, Linux administration, security (ethical hacking), virtualization, database administration, as well as messaging and mobile device administration.

Consequently, we expanded the length of our current IT program by 50%, expanded our internship by 100%, divided it into blocks that better map to each skill area, and ensured that students take blocks consecutively to maximize transferable knowledge in a particular technology area.   We called the end result our IT Professional (ITP) program, and it contains all of the technologies that industry employers requested.

However, we can’t stop here.

To keep pace with the needs of the IT industry, colleges must continually revise their curriculum and courses based on the types of skills that IT employers are searching for in their region.  If you are an IT employer, and need to hire additional IT staff, what this means is that you can influence college curriculum by ensuring that the job descriptions that you publish within job ads are as detailed as possible.  More specifically:

  • Include a description of the type of work that the job candidate would perform, and the personal traits that would allow them to be successful within the position.
  • List any technologies that the job candidate would need to work with, as well as the level of knowledge they need to have about the technology.
  • List any IT industry certifications that are required and/or encouraged.  Ensure that you first understand the competencies tested by the certification, so that you only list certifications that match the job position.

In summary, let’s rewrite the first sentence of this post:

As organizations today continue to adopt new technologies and share more information, the need for technology-savvy people who understand those technologies increases.  To fill that need, organizations and colleges need to work together to ensure that changes in technology need are addressed by graduates entering the workforce.

Once you hire the right people what’s the best way to manage them? Read ‘How to Support a Virtual Workplace.’

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