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6 IT skills you'll need this year

Embrace these skills to be in demand this year


As the economy slowly begins to revive, organisations will be looking for IT pros with a mix of skills. We look at what you'll need to get ahead in 2010.

1. Programming/application development

Among companies that plan to hire, the top reason for doing so is to meet demand for new systems and projects.

That could be why programming/application development is the skill set that's most in demand, by far, according to Computerworld's survey.

"We're actually seeing new projects get the green light," says Dave Willmer, executive director of IT staffing firm Robert Half Technology.

Quite possibly, he says, these were projects that were cancelled at the end of 2008, only to be revived for 2010.

The wave of new projects is also leading to demand for application developers who can double as business analysts and project managers, Willmer says.

Specifically, companies will look for developers with knowledge of .Net, Java, web development, open source and portal technologies such as Microsoft's Sharepoint, says Willmer.

Demand is growing for people who know specialised programming languages like Ruby on Rails and AJAX, Silver notes.

There aren't many jobs that require those skills, he says, but the number of openings has increased since January 2009.

Kilgore says he would like to find a "hybrid" software developer who can also serve as a business analyst.

"We need someone who can talk to the business and be a requirements gatherer, project manager and software developer, all rolled into one," he says.

He also needs developers with open-source expertise - a rare talent, he says - as well as professionals familiar with Microsoft tools for the ERP and marketing intelligence sides of the business.

Willmer says it makes sense that companies are looking for developers with skills in other areas, such as business analysis or even quality assurance, since employers are concerned about the cost of talent.

"They're making sure they get the most out of their resources," he says.

Computerworld's 2010 Forecast survey respondents said they also need developers to build homegrown applications in an effort to save money.

That's the case for James Sullivan, manager of information services at Covidien, a global health-care company in the US.

Sullivan soon hopes to add three or four business-savvy programmer/analysts with Java or .Net backgrounds and an understanding of SQL databases.

That represents a 25 percent increase in his usual hiring levels, he says, and it's a departure from previous years when he looked for programming skills alone.

One of Covidien's 2010 projects is to migrate from third-party custom-built applications to commercial off-the-shelf applications or bring them in-house.

This, Sullivan says, would reduce spending on vendors and consultants, as well as enable his group to provide the support and turn around business-driven changes more quickly.

This dovetails with a growing trend at Covidien to better leverage existing resources.

"If something takes 10 hours today, we're asking how we can make it take one-tenth of that," Sullivan says.

At Scottrade, the recession didn't affect hiring, according to Ian Patterson, CIO at the online financial services company.

He hired more than 150 IT professionals in 2009 and plans to hire up to 200 this year to meet demand for new internal and customer-facing applications, and to keep up with changes and expansions.

He says he's mainly looking for people with C++, Java and C# skills and notes that the company is also implementing a Siebel CRM system for the call centre.

US power supplier Energy Northwest also saw continued growth in 2009.

CIO Keith Cooke is looking for computer and electrical engineers with Java, web and .Net skills to help fully web-enable an internal system that is partially web-based but still uses a terminal-based interface.

Initially, he didn't want to retrain staff to use a browser-based interface.

Now, however, "we're bringing on people who can help us adapt our legacy system to the new workforces coming in", Cooke says.

NEXT PAGE: Help desk/technical support

  1. IT pros willing to embrace these skills are sure to be in demand this year
  2. Programming/application development
  3. Help desk/technical support
  4. Security and business intelligence


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