IT skills shortages have been an issue of concern for businesses and governments for more than 20 years. This will change over the next few years as IT skill levels increase and become embedded into business activities.
In recent years, IT vendors have worked very closely with businesses and governments to ensure that training investments are made which are centred around their products. Cisco's Networking Academy is a great example of this. Cisco has partnered very closely with educational institutions and governments, around the world, to promote training around its products. This has created a situation in which people trained in IT networking feel comfortable working with Cisco products. More importantly, it has helped to address the shortfall in IT networking professionals.
However, as IT products become more standardised, cloud computing becomes mainstream, and software takes over from hardware in many areas, demand for IT skills will fall. Cloud computing typically involves the automation of processes that were once relatively labour intensive. It also engenders the provision of services where users can configure software much more easily than was the case in the past. For example, a user can configure an 'Amazon style' storefront very easily for their ecommerce needs. Only a few years ago, the setting up of such a storefront was a highly complex activity that required specialised technical skills.
The skill levels required to carry out tasks that were once considered to be highly complex are falling. Simultaneously, the IT skill levels of the typical white collar worker are increasing. This is leading to a lesser need for IT skills and for a need for ordinary workers to steadily improve their IT skills.
Thirty years ago, the individuals that worked with technology tended to possess comparatively high technical skills levels. Anybody that sought to work with technology required a significant amount of training and most ordinary workers did not touch computers. To many, computers were perceived to be devices with which only scientists worked.
Fifteen to 20 years ago, IT became democratised. PCs were found on the desks of most white collar workers. They became essential tools for carrying out tasks at work. It was soon assumed that ordinary workers would be able to operate PCs and undertake basic tasks with the programs that they were using.
Today, technology is even more embedded in the activities of the ordinary worker. The IT skill level of today's ordinary worker is much higher than before and the technology tasks that they perform would have been considered to be complex in previous years. Assuming that this trend continues, we can assume that ordinary workers will be undertaking even more complex tasks in the years ahead.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.