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IT skills: Jumping the chasm

Tracy Mayor and Julia King | June 5, 2012
The current tech talent gap is just the first sign of a coming revolution in the IT labor market. Here's how to secure your footing now and brace for what's ahead.

"I would definitely still recommend IT. It comes down to knowing what your bent is -- are you somebody who knows many different things or somebody who's single-threaded? Either way, you're going to need to be willing to learn as much as you can." -- Dru Urbaniak, systems network administrator, Midwest Legal & eData Services

"I've been frustrated trying to get people in my family and in my circles to get into IT. I'm surprised how many young people are not taking that route. To me it seems there are a lot of employment possibilities there, and a lot of job security, particularly in the utilities sector." -- Charles Williams, manager, Georgia System Operations

"If you're uncomfortable with change, I would say stay away. If you're excited about new technologies, go for it. I can't imagine a job where you do the same thing day in, day out for years and years. However disruptive and scary they can be, new technologies keep things interesting." -- Jason Rolader, systems administrator, Georgia Insurance Guaranty Association

"I tell my kids to pursue their passions, whatever they may be. If it happens to be technology, I would support that. If you're really good at something, become the best at it. People complain about the tech sector, but it sure beats digging a ditch for a living." -- Jim Penman, senior consultant, Smart Consulting Firm

-- Tracy Mayor and Julia King

Plan for Lifelong Learning

How can IT workers traverse the current skills gap and get to work on the new technologies employers say they want now? Beyond that, how should they prepare for the rapidly approaching transformation of corporate IT?

First and foremost, tech managers and employment experts assert, IT professionals must never stop learning -- even though some, if not all, of the training they need will be on their own time and on their own dime.

"You can't rely on a company for your growth and training anymore," says executive recruiter Weinman. "Except for a few enlightened companies, if they're training you at all, they're training you for what they need, not necessarily training for what you need to develop your technical skills over the long run."

That message resonates with Montalbano, who believes he's been successful in both his corporate IT and consulting careers in part because he's willing to invest his own time and resources in staying technologically current.

"You need to invest in your career. I have $2,800 worth of hardware -- a server, two processors, a terabyte of storage, a whole cloud -- in my house. That's how I learned cloud," says Montalbano, who also has a string of Microsoft certifications. "Nobody told me to get my [Microsoft Certified IT Professional credential], but that helped me get a job, and once I got to Catapult, I needed [expertise in] virtualization, so I took three weeks and took that certification exam."


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