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6 key skills new IT grads are lacking

Mary K. Pratt | Feb. 14, 2012
Greg Taffet is scouting for talent.

To compensate for this skills gap, many corporate IT departments choose to train new hires themselves, he says. Large companies tend to engage consultants to aid in the process, while small and midsize companies find ways to train people directly.

3. Emerging Technologies Expertise

Business intelligence (BI) and cloud computing are two emerging tech trends that are high priorities to enterprise IT managers, but those topics haven't trickled down into college curricula yet.

Colleges can offer only so many courses, and with technologies changing so rapidly, there tends to be some lag time when it comes to developing extensive coursework in evolving trends, says Marty Sylvester, senior vice president of Modis, an IT staffing firm in Harrisburg, Pa.

Sylvester says he regularly hears from CIOs who say how hard it is to find young people trained in emerging enterprise technologies, particularly cloud computing.

Some companies offer crash courses to get new hires up to speed. One employer that takes that approach is Pariveda Solutions, a Dallas-based IT consultancy. CEO Bruce Ballengee says Pariveda generally hires recent grads who hold bachelor's degrees in MIS or computer science and then starts them off with a week of "developer school" to familiarize them with emerging technologies they may not have studied in college, such as cloud computing and BI, as well as in-demand enterprise programming languages like SQL, .Net and Java.

4. The Tech Basics

As IT becomes increasingly advanced, Jeff Bowden has seen a decline in the ability of college graduates to handle simple tech tasks. "One gap we're finding is that colleges don't teach the real basic basics," says Bowden, director of IT systems at Dassault Systemes, a software vendor in Auburn Hills, Mich.

Bowden needs new hires who have basic tech skills -- they have to know their way around a command prompt, understand batch scripting or know how to fix a PC when it's not responding to input from the mouse.

"When you started 20 years ago, you were forced to learn this, but as computers evolved, people ignored this basic stuff," he says. "Yet there can be a strong need for it when you're troubleshooting computers" -- a task that's often part of an entry-level IT job.

Bowden says he often leaves his new hires to figure out what to do on their own when faced with basic tech problems. "Our preference is getting them to learn how to do it -- Googling it and so on. Then it's something they own. Once you have [hands-on experience] a few times, then you know the technology," he says, adding that he sometimes asks more senior staffers to teach new hires if time is short.


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