Skills change fast in IT market

Hundreds of new skills are needed in the IT market every year, while hundreds of others become redundant, says a recruitment industry survey.

Hundreds of new skills are needed in the IT market every year, while hundreds of others become redundant, says a recruitment industry survey.

The Australian Icon IT Trend index says its market has 1547 "live" skills, with 522 new or refreshed in 2000 and 231 becoming inactive.

Kiwi recruiters say this highlights the need for IT workers to continually update their skills.

The survey says demand for Network/Comms/internet skills increased by a third in 2000, becoming responsible for 34% of IT positions, a figure set to grow. There was also a shift towards Customer Service and CRM skills.

New skills included: Customer Service, Win 4.0 Server, PHP, SQL Server 7, STL, Automated Testing , Siebel, Jade, SAP Bus Information Warehouse, B2B, 3 Tier Development, Java Server Pages, and Win 2000.

In New Zealand, Candle's Christine Fitchew says skills always come and go, with shortages now in leading edge technologies like data-warehousing.

"It is also essential to have good customer service. There is no room for backroom boffins anymore," she says.

"The MCSE [Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer] was once like a crown on your head. These days they do it in the seventh form. It loses its mana."

Fitchew says Australia was more specialist, but Kiwi employers are becoming more specific in their demands.

However, Lachlan Sloan of Protocol Personnel says very few NZ companies can offer specific roles.

"VB developers are expected to do SQL. New skills are built on old skills and Java staff were ex C++."

He says Kiwi IT workers often gain a general grounding here before specialising in the US and UK.

David Newick of IT Futures says New Zealand follows similar world trends, but Australia's situation was distorted by the introduction of GST, which drew in many transient IT workers for short-term projects.

Newick confirms significant increases for web-related skills, particularly Java, PHP and ASP. Unix engineers and administrators and network engineers are also sought-after.

He says a major trend will also be overseas IT companies coming to New Zealand taking opportunity of our time-zone, flexible workforce, good lifestyle, a favourable exchange rate and access to the US and European markets they serve.

"New Zealand professionals will be able to increase the scope of projects available to them and to provide opportunities to learn new technologies within large companies who have substantial R&D budgets," he says.

However, IT workers will only benefit from inflationary salaries if their skills are up-to-date, otherwise, their salaries may fall.

"IT professionals, especially contractors, need to consider training as their individual responsibility and seek to develop their personal brand as a company would develop a corporate brand - reinvestment of a percentage of their income according to what it is they seek to achieve strategically," Newick says.

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