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back to article IT pros lack recent skills

46% of IT workers struggle to keep their skills up to date with new technology, according to CompTIA, a non-profit trade association advancing the global interests of information technology professionals. The organisation's latest State of the IT Skills Gap research found that 43% of organisations cannot find the resources …

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Anonymous Coward

Employers are so dumb about this.

Sigh! As a very low level PHB in a large IT company I can't help but read this story with sad dismay. In my experience my team value being able to keep their skills up to date as much or even more than getting pay rises. To them training represents staying employable and it is great way of boosting morale but the higher ups don't see it that way. The chaps in the corner offices expect full attendance at their briefings, strategy meeting and town halls but won't allow time for the people who generate the cash to develop their skills.

I've lost track of the business cases I've had thrown out even for time out for training.

I've lost count of the projects we've had had to recruit expensive contractors for as we don't have the in-house skills because we won't spend money on training - I cannot get the money for any of my team to do on-line training as the company won't give up the revenue.

The problem is not in ourselves nor in our stars but in the stupid idiots managing UK plc.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Employers are so dumb about this.

Welcome to the UK job market. I am surprised you have not noticed the lovely scenery around you.

UK employability is not based on skill it is based on experience. Get on an IT job board and read the job ads - if you find one that specifies skill it will be a spec published by a non-UK company. The short term results from that are that:

1. Getting a "recent tech exhibition" in your server room in order to have "experience" on your CV is more important than getting the job done.

2. If something can be bought and "experience" attached to the CV on it, it shall be bought regardless of how sh*** it is even if writing the same thing will take an IT pro about half an hour.

3. Bespoke software and customizations to fit the company business needs are not ordered unless they can be ordered from an outsourcing organization. Experience in dealing with outsourced partners is a "employable" CV skill for a UK CV, while riding shotgun on local suppliers to build it and deploy it is not.

4. A UK company manager is more likely to complete a full sepuku (spill his guts with a wakizashi and chop of his head with a katana) unassisted than pay a technical member of staff more than himself even if his skills require that.

5. Even if it can hire a qualified person who can do 3-4 junior jobs simultaneously by automating them and improving the workflow, a UK company will refuse to do that. The catchphrase is: "We cannot change our grades".

6, 7, 8... ad naseum

The overall effect is that the UK skills and productivity gap compared to the rest of the world is growing and will continue to grow and I hate to say it but there is no end in sight. The situation has gone so bad that I have stopped keeping a UK version of my CV. It is now formatted strictly in a skills format the way yanks and other countries like it.

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Re: Employers are so dumb about this.

My only statement would be that this sorry state of affairs is always to do with shite middle to upper management and seldom anything to do with the guys at the coalface.

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Fun and Great Games and Beta Deep C Phishing sure does beat any kind of Angling

Simon [Sharwood] and El Regers, Howdy.

You might like to consider that there comes a certain stage/time whenever those and/or that which excels at IT realises the power and control which they have over everything ....... and given the right protocols and codes, is there nothing that cannot be done. Use the wrong protocols and codes though and everything turns to dust via the bullshit which would be peddled to have you think otherwise.

And how very APT that these two puppets should appear today to endorse, and if not prove the theory, at least confirm the notion .......... http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/9139490/Barack-Obamas-warm-welcome-for-David-Cameron-signals-revival-of-special-relationship.html

And don't you just love the caveat in tale there .......“hardly anything we cannot do” ...... which tells y'all that they are missing the vital ingredients to actually be able to do anything revolutionary and evolutionary at all. More of the same old same old just aint gonna cut it any more and in IT does it herald a revolution, driven by that which the system does not control or own or have any inkling of a real understanding of, to sweep away all that is not required for a better future.

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Re: Fun and Great Games and Beta Deep C Phishing sure does beat any kind of Angling

Dunno how this is all relevant to the topic, but I'm inclined to agree with the spirit of the statement " ...hardly anything we cannot do ...", and it is generally a positive thing. What disturbs me really is that there is also '...hardly anything we won't do ...' That's another ballgame.

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Re: Fun and Great Games and Beta Deep C Phishing sure does beat any kind of Angling

That was very astute of you, JustaKOS, and yes, things have changed more than just a little bit, and in IT circles/disciplines/magical arts, is it the Great Game being servered with a relentless and increasingly powerful and targeted stream of curveballs/coded references/secret messages ...... http://www.zerohedge.com/news/balestra-capital-if-government-programs-were-canceled-economy-would-collapse-back-severe-recess ...... betatesting for human intelligence/systems/services worthy of virtual machine codedD help.

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Re: Fun and Great Games and Beta Deep C Phishing sure does beat any kind of Angling

always nice to see people replying to a Bot...

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(Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

Re: Re: Fun and Great Games and Beta Deep C Phishing sure does beat any kind of Angling

Yes, but he's our bot.

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Baited Hooks for Super Crooks and SMARTer Being[s]?

And why do you think Wired chooses the following path of denial to the truth of such murky matters .....

amanfromMars …… on http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/03/dugan-darpa-google/

Google is not an innovative company, it is a foreign intelligence and CyberIntelAIgents asset which thinks it knows your every wish and desire and thought ....... http://legaltimes.typepad.com/blt/2012/03/doj-asks-court-to-keep-secret-any-partnership-between-google-nsa.html ...... and may even presume to think it might know what you may do in the future via linear extrapolation of a particular chain of interests. Minority Report in the flesh.

Well, just imagine what you share with ITs servers, to realise the truth of that simple statement.

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FAIL

No training here

There's been a training freeze at my place for over a year. They're not even training people for the work they're expected to do now!

Even if you do manage to persuade someone that you have a skill gap and need to do some training, the response is usually "You buy the materials and do the training in your own time. We can't give you any time out of your day to do it. Once you've passed the exam, we'll consider reimbursing you."

I really do despair of the stupid, stupid attitude that seems prevalent in so many companies. IT is the one area which needs almost constant training. Not doing that is a sure-fire strategy for the systems to fail.

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Re: No training here

I don't think I've worked anywhere in the past 12 years that has offered any IT training...

When I was working as a dev and managing the dev team, I begged for training for the devs (and myself). I was repeatedly told that I had to prove that it would bring value to the company. No amount of explaining that it could foster a deeper understanding of the language and/or frameworks or that it may highlight areas that the team should focus their efforts on, or show us new ways of doing things, improve productivity, open new areas for development opportunities etc etc made any difference and we never got any training.

Meanwhile the higher ups got their expensive cars fully serviced, fuelled, maintained, taxed, insured and valeted all at the companies expense...

Now as a sysadmin, I am occasionally allowed to buy books at the companies expense, but training? No. Not for IT. Plenty of training for other areas of the business though! I've even asked to be included in management training. Strangely I seem to get over looked for that too...

I have paid for 'on-line' training in the past, out of my own pocket and severely regretted it. It was an expensive way to learn that training gave a basic overview of 8 chapters of a book. Not enough to pass the exams. The rest I had to learn from the book (including the detail of the first 8 chapters) - which I could have bought for a fraction of the cost of the course.

I now only buy the books and occasionally I will also fork out for exams when funds allow.

I can only think that I must have been a very bad person in a former life or perhaps when you are seen as competent and can turn your hand to anything, seemingly without needing to be shown how to do stuff, that you are just expected to know how everything works... and that means you don't need training...

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Re: No training here

I think your employer must be nudging you into the future they probably deem inevitable: when you are better trained, you are more attractive on the job market. If they pay for your training and then you are poached by the competitor, that's pure loss for the employer. If you pay for your training and then change jobs for better paid one, that's your move and your investment being paid off.

Also, I fail to see what's wrong with spending own money for improving one's skills. I've been doing this since ... never mind.

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Happy

Re: No training here

In <mumble> years in IT, my total training amounts to a 4-day course on the RT-11 operating system and a 3-day one on Microsoft Siteserver. As you can probably imagine, with these skills on my CV the world's my oyster. Oh, and two weeks training as a Unix sysadmin (at which I am useless, because I never did it for real).

My view is that if you want a new skill, you'd better teach yourself. Courses are too short to do more than scratch the surface of any knowledge domain that's worth learning, although they do impart a useful sense of confidence.

Starting with a new skill is a bit like being on a bike at the bottom of a big hill. It's always hard, but after the first few times you come to appreciate that climbing hills is one of the things you do.

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Re: No training here

The trouble with teaching yourself is that it doesn't count.

I see form your CV that you wrote the Linux kernel Mr Torvalds - well really we need someone with a Redhat Linux Certification for this job.

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Re: No training here

Perhaps you are right. However it doesn't explain why other areas of the business get training.

As for spending my own money on training. I already do that, but as I mentioned I have been badly burned by 'on-line' training companies and won't go that route again. Spending > £1000 is not something I can take lightly or often afford. I would rather take a class at a local college but all the classes on offer only cover the basics of <insert technology here>, occasionally progressing into intermediate territory. Not much use for IT pros who can generally figure most of that out just by messing around with <insert technology here>.

Having spent the last 12 years learning largely on my own. Those rare occasions when I am able to learn in a formal setting, with a tutor and other students, or even in a seminar, I find I learn a lot faster than I do reading from a book where I am trying to understand the content, the way it is presented and the intent of the author. With books you aren't able to ask questions to clarify certain points. Forums can help but it is still a hell of a lot slower.

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Re: No training here

That last comment was in reply to @Bronek Kozicki

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39% see no improvement

It's interesting to note that "...39% of organisations don't see a performance boost when they do shell out for IT-specific training". Is this because they have poor untrainable staff? Or the courses are shite? or is it perhaps that they are blessed with the sort of staff that are experienced enough not to need much training in the latest upgrade of product X?

An experienced pro will already be well advanced in understanding a new product (unless it is really radical) and the training will just ice the cake. Consequently performance improvement will be perceived to be low (cos they were already performing well).

'Course if you dump your old farts and staff your department with noobs (no matter how qualified), you do have to rely pretty much on the quality of the courses.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 39% see no improvement

The training is a means to an end, nothing beats hands on experience, the end requirement of most training is to keep the owner of the training company in a current model German car.

Most training is shite, my Cisco training was some muppet reading Powerpoints off a projection screen (and getting them wrong or misunderstanding them most of the time).

Of course when you get to the specialist stuff away from COMPTIA or MCSE level then training becomes more important but you're training people with years of experience so, as you say, the performance yardstick isn't exactly a yard any more. Most IT staff who get to that level are usually pretty damn good and will 'get' the concepts so it's just filling in the gaps that might not have been obvious at the outset unless the technology is radically new.

Almost without exception IT departments that have noobs who chose IT as a career because 'there's loads of money' in it are useless no matter how much training you give them they will only ever be competent at best. Those that are filled with 'geeks' of pretty much any age are almost always the best.

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Unhappy

Re: 39% see no improvement

Probably because they're trained in tools or techniques that are then deemed too costly to support or implement. Now if you'll just finish translating that Fortran code into Cobol when you get back to your desk we can get on with the migration to IE6...

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LDS
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Stop

Isn't that many "recent technologies" are crap?

Did some companies ever think that the "recent technologies" their management is eager to adopt are crap in the eyes of skilled IT people?

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Happy

Re: Isn't that many "recent technologies" are crap?

Oh yeah, that too.

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Meh

Re: Isn't that many "recent technologies" are crap?

My point exactly. I'm a geek by profession, and I've been having a self-perception of being pretty conservative, since my twenties maybe. I try to understand and leverage the underlying basics, rather than adopt any shiny new toy (after a few such toys, it gets old). A lot of the "new" technologies *are* crap. New things introduced for the sake of novelty / eyewash / sales pitch, rather than utility / progress / improvement. How many times can you sell an Office suite, with just a new version sticker on it? A new version of a windowing OS? A "radically novel" user inteface? Yet another software development environment? Increasingly nasty licensing schemes and vendor lock-in? Some of the new stuff feels increasingly degressive...

I have the luxury of working in a small company, where I'm free to study and try whatever I want.

I also meet IT and "embedded system integration" pro's in other companies. Speaking of training, in my experience, many of them would use training in "the underlying basics". Stuff as basic as Ethernet, TCP/IP, dynamic behavior of disk drives, disk partitioning and file systems (UNIX/Linux angle), vendor-independent basic OS and networking concepts - just to get some common sense. But maybe it's indeed down to everyone's personal eagerness to "peek under the hood", or ability to take a distance from the product you've just purchased. Or, down to chance, down to opportunity to work with different technologies...

Most of the training commercially available is heavily vendor-specific and brainwashy (Cisco, Microsoft). The other side of things is undoubtedly "freedom to starve to death", as Sir Terry would put it... Once you reach the "intermediate sorcerer" level, you can become a freelancer, pretty much on your own.

In my part of the world, there are a number of "training products" apparently developed with one key goal in mind: to get an EU grant from the "training/education funds of the EU". Hardly any IT training in there, or any other rigorous professional training. Mostly soft skills. The non-IT colleagues attend those trainings voluntarily, even happily. I have other, more entertaining or useful ways of wasting time / procrastinating - or study :-)

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Re: Isn't that many "recent technologies" are crap?

IT is inherently slow at finding out what's good and what's not. It takes a few years to build a larger project on a new technology. And only after many people have implemented large projects with a new technology, people will be able to judge whether it's suitable or not.

Unfortunately few projects are properly documented, and there are next to no metrics on the quality of software platforms making this all pretty much a guessing game.

So if a technology hasn't aged 10 years yet, you should be skeptical. You may have found one of the few technologies which are useful, or you may have settled on the crappy solution.

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True!

I'm a Sysadmin of 25yrs, and whilst I'm almost entirely self-taught, I'm still massively held back by: (a) the age of the technology that we use (WinXP, WinServ2003, SQL2005), and (b) our choice to delegate all new knowledge to our out-sourced computer kit vendor, and/or our out-sourced off-shore team - who, strangely enough, are no longer off-shore but now sit in the same office.

The most up-to-date technology I got to work with recently was Microsoft Dynamics 2012. Only, I was given no real training, and instead was basically shown which buttons to click on to performance a server or client install. And then we canned that project. Nice. Mind you, I hated it. So, no real loss there.

This may be a little bit conspiracist, but, I think that PHB's are now using this new lack of real training/knowledge as a way of controlling their sysadmins, making them feel less valued in the workplace, and therefore make them feel less likely to find a new/better role. That, and the general lack of money available to spend on upgrades/maintenance (specifically in the retail sector).

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Another problem you get is companies not training people because they think that as soon as they train people, they will go and get another job using the new skills/qualifications. Of course if they paid the going rate for the job anyway, and actually give what they promised when the job was first offered, why would people want to leave in the first place?

This sort of ties in with the theory many large organisations seem to have that if they don't give the promised "at least 2 weeks a year training" then people won't need promotion & therefore more pay. This leaves the staff member stuck in a low pay grade, but unable to move to another company because they don't have the relevant qualifications for the job they do.

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Anonymous Coward

We don't train you to leave...

This is exactly the issue.

Businesses do not train because they know that they will have to pay you more to do the same job or suffer you leaving.

There is just no money if you work in IT, work in sales or finance instead.

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Re: We don't train you to leave...

@AC 09:46 "There is just no money if you work in IT, work in sales or finance instead."

In my experience this isn't true. If you work in IT you have skills that are readily transferable, and relatively easy to upgrade. If you think you're underpaid, find a new job. I'm told that the market is buoyant at the moment.

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Holmes

Works for me!

AC has it - most training is useless. There are exceptions, but generally, once someone is working in IT, the only way they're ever going to be able to start using a new tech, is they teach themselves outside work, or work alongside someone who is familiar.

The fact that some people are willing to invest extra time, while some people are only willing to work the clock, means that the former can happily earn far more as contractors, once they realise they're in that category of course.

There's a lot of money to be made working in IT, but you can't just turn up to the office and expect someone to hand your career to you on a plate.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Works for me!

and some of us are only willing to 'work the clock' because we've had the enthusiasm beaten out of us by years of shitty treatment by company after company who think IT staff are disposable and interchangeable.

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Unhappy

It's not just the employers

More often than not I find many IT staff lacking much more than just skills in recent technology. They often lack even very basic knowledge about how things work inside a computer. They may know their way around in Windows or Linux or certain applications, or may be able to change a hard drive on a laptop or replace a network switch, but quite often when digging deeper the lack of knlowledge is quite shocking.

Many of them are also as flexible as a crow bar when it comes to change (which includes adopting new technologies), and this is not an age thing. Personal favorism (i.e. Linux vs Windows vs Mac) is also often projected on the job no matter if this is adequate or not.

In my experience IT is one of the industries with the highest amount of hot air bags. But then everyone can do computer, right?

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Recent?

A survey on behalf of a training company, finds that there is a gap between training done and training needed. What a surprise. I suspect that even if they found that 80% of companies were getting staff trained, they would still find a way to modify the figures to support their view that more training is required (especially if it is in areas that they provide training). They been singing this song for as long as I can remember.

Having said that, training is important and not just for IT staff. Companies are willing to spend millions on ERP systems, 1,000s per day on consultants, but balk at paying any money at all to get their staff trained to use the systems properly, so they don't get the best out of their investment. They believe that training is "not necessary" as the staff can "learn on the job". This is a symptom of wishful thinking triumphing over reality.

Think back to your days in school; did you enjoy all of the classes? Probably not, and many will have not done that well academically as a result. Those classes that you enjoyed, you will probably have done better in. The same will be true with IT training. If you are a network specialist, you might well enjoy doing a Cisco course, but probably not a course in scripting.

Unfortunately, too many companies expect their IT staff to be generalists that can turn their hands to anything. This would have been possible a decade or so ago, but these days we need people to be much more specialised, even in the quite small departments.

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Anonymous Coward

Nation's Hair Requires Cutting

As reported by a study done by the National Barbers Association, the nation's hair is growing too quickly and must be cut immediately.

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I don't trust the source.

It goes without saying that companies fall behind in keeping their techs trained up, but also, Comptia isn't to be trusted, these are the people that recently offered "lifetime certifications" only to declare 3 months later that everyone that got them will need to pay them $150 a year to keep their certifications. They say that the old one is permanent and never expires, it just will no longer be used. Only new (CE) versions are valid. The dates on their CE advertisements show that they knew the "lifetime" ones they were pushing just before the CE ones were going to be worthless.

I know two people that spent money on one of those worthless "lifetime certifications" from CompTia. And under their new CE certs you have to attend classes like 3 times a year, in some city across the pond. I mean they were entry certs, but for new people needing those certs, the money they wasted was a lot. (non-profit my ass)

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Cost

The courses are just so darn expensive. As a manager, would you want to risk spending 5K on a course or two for an employee ? Multiply that up by the number of IT engineers in your company and the cost sky-rockets.

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For "technology" ...

... read "marketing buzzwords".

Kinda brings the article into focus, no?

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Training is overated

as most training courses will teach the student primarily to pass the exam and secondarily the subject. With most course taught in a perfect lab environment where things never go wrong, trouble shooting issues with the subject matter when things do go wrong is rarely touched upon.

IT systems have developed and evolved over the years, there has been no sudden leap where all previously learned skills have become redundant. In my opinion IT professionals should also develop and evolve along with it. I would rather employ a 50 year old with perhaps 30 years IT experience, who maybe a little set in their ways, over a pliable youngster with a list of training course certificates as long as their arm.

I wouldn't call myself an expert in any particular field but with over 20 years experience across a broad range of IT disciplines, there isn't much I cannot turn my hand to and make a passable job of. I also know my limitations so I'm unlikely to bite off more than I can chew.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Training is overated

I spent 20k+ USD on training for CCIE R/S, SP and Security plus the whole catalogue of Juniper Offcial Training Materials. I have a bookshelf filled with maybe 50 books from their CCIE series over the years and a subscription to safarionline. I haven't done any of the training and I've never read any of the books.

But I still keep managing to design large-scale ISP networks.

I'll do JNCIE-SP and CCIE-SP this year. Small steps. It's only to get past HR anyway if you don't know anyone on the inside.

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Anonymous Coward

I find your lack of training disturbing

The engineers at my current workplace can do the job. But our lack of training, and lack of a culture of learning and training is showing.

We don't use the new tech to its full benefit, we don't understand how the new tech runs properly.

The few who have studied on their own (as a means to escape the place) are stunned at how little we actually know.

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Alert

CompTIA is in it for the money

I've been in IT longer than most of the kids that worked in my office had been alive. My boss at the time refused repeatedly to send me off to classes. His reasoning was I had the skills and did not need to spend a week training on something I already knew. On the other hand, money was poured into the kids and were sent off to classes and certified. I felt the money was squandered. Sending them off to get certified did not improve their skills or abilities to accomplish common everyday tasks of being geeks. Though they were certified and supposedly "mini IT gods", simple things tripped them up and it showed on their performance. Tasks that were too complex for them to solve were thrown into my lap.

CompTIA does not:

Teach "intuitive thinking" (IE- the idea that everything in the box is 1's and 0's and can be changed at a whim, if you know how)

Train with a full skill set. They give a reader's digest version and test to that version.

Make one an instant "IT god" when passing the test. It shows you have the ability to grasp the ideas, store the information and regurgitate it onto the test.

Replace years of experience with a week long class. Employers that feel that it does are going to be paying for hours of wasted time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: CompTIA is in it for the money

Amen to that, my COMPTIA exams were a waste of time and money but they were necessary to get some manufacturer accreditations which, again, were a waste of time and money from a skills point of view.

There are people who 'get' IT and those who think it's a good career because 'there's loads of money in it mate'.

The fundamental problem with almost all of the current accreditations is that you could train the average supermarket trolley collector to pass the exams in a week, it doesn't mean they have skills, it just means they passed an exam.

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Devil

President and CEO.

Sorry about the pay freeze and training programs to keep your skill modern but we need to pay the VP a 20 million bonus instead so he can go hunting and fishing 10 times out of each year.

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Mushroom

Rubbish...

Flame away...

Don't know where you lot have been working, but 3 out of my 4 employers (now a contractor so any training I will pay for myself) have paid for any neccessary training.

I must have had at least 50K's worth from the Sun/IBM/Red Hat catalogue, if you pick the right employers (and you are good enough to work for those employers) then they will pay..simple as that.

Suggest you lot go and work for some decent companies...

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So, to summarise, the arse has fallen out of IT.

Time to leave the kids to it and set off for pastures new?

Perhaps I'll start iPad's Anonymous and turn some coin helping the poor technology refugees of the future.

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Flame

Wake up

Training whats that never had any in years, employers dont even seem to realise that your skills in abc programming language could transfer to xyz language with minimal learning. Business programming at the end of the day is basically the same whether you do it on Oracle, sap or in RPG400 ( my old lanuage !) .. Better wake up India is coming an they learn and they will take your jobs .

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Re: Wake up

Do you consider your use of written English to be above average, ad2apps?

Serious question.

There might be a reason your programming work is being out-sourced ...

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Re: Wake up

The reason why programming in the UK is being outsourced is not the level of English ( mine or anyone elses) it is a fact that it is cheaper abroad. You may have noticed that programming languages won't compile with spelling mistakes therefore they have to be correct !.

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Alien

Re: Wake up

CLC ; Ensure carry flag is 0

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Training hard to get?

In the past 9 years I've had the following:

Employer 1 (6 Years) - 8 Microsoft courses, 3 Cisco courses, 2 CheckPoint courses, 1 ITIL course

Employer 2 (1 Year) - No courses - Hence I left

Employer 3 (2 Years so far) - 4 VMWare courses, 1 Microsoft course

I've also had the exam's paid for too and have ITIL, MCSE, MCITP and VCP certifications.

Training can be pretty good if you get the right employer!

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