IT workers upskilling to tackle downturn

With continued uncertainty about the state of the economy, and mixed feelings about how both industry in general and the IT sector will fare in coming years, IT staff are (unsurprisingly) polishing their CVs and seeking new skills which will make them more attractive candidates during the recruitment process.

According to the IT Job Board, a UK specialist recruitment agency, 83% of IT professionals are thinking about gaining new qualifications, with 37% stating that their motivation is improving their chances of getting a job. Top subjects for study are project management, Microsoft qualifications, and Cisco certifications, with "the most popular choices of certifications [being] the most widely recognised within the industry". Interestingly, "soft skills" such as people management ranked poorly, with potential candidates also "indifferent" to demonstrating soft skills on their CV.

A poll of senior IT managers conducted on behalf of BCS found that "better IT skills and qualifications" ranked more highly than "better IT infrastructure" in a list of attributes that could aid economic recovery. Some 56% of respondents want to see "a greater focus on IT at all levels", while just over half would like to "improve the commercial focus" of qualifications. Encouragingly, more than half (54%) of the managers surveyed are positive about the economic prospects for the IT industry in the coming year, with 64% seeing the UK economy emerging from recession by the end of 2010 -- although this is still more than twelve months away.

Robert Walters, a UK IT recruitment specialist company, said that during the third quarter of 2009 there had been "an increase in hiring activity across the technology market", with a larger number of roles becoming available as businesses "rebalanced" their IT teams after making significant cuts during the first half of the year. The most successful recruiters "recognised the current market as an opportunity to strengthen their teams with key professionals who would not have previously been available at such competitive rates".
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