Study: gov’t IT workers closing skill gap

Government IT workers in the U.S. outscore their private sector counterparts on knowledge of Unix, Linux and Microsoft Corp. software but still lag in networking, databases and Internet technologies, according to a study conducted by a company that tests IT skills online.

A comparison of the scores of 4,110 government and 7,096 private sector employees who were tested in eight areas indicates that government IT workers are closing a skills gap that has existed for years between themselves and private sector IT workers, the study’s sponsor says.

The federal, state and municipal government IT workers outscored their private sector counterparts in the key technology disciplines of Unix and Linux skills and in Microsoft technology administration skills and Microsoft application skills. Private sector IT services workers outscored government workers in the five other technology areas, which were networking technology skills, database technology skills, Internet technology skills, programming language skills and entry level technology skills.

The study was conducted by Brainbench Inc., in Chantilly, Virginia. It was designed to measure the relative IT skill levels of government and private sector IT services workers. Brainbench drew the more than 11,000 test results needed for the study from its database of more than 5 million online tests taken over the past two years. People voluntarily take the tests at Brainbench’s Web site. Brainbench grades them and returns them to the user.

Government IT workers are showing significant strengths in some important technology areas, especially Unix and Linux, Brainbench President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Russiello said in a statement. Increased focus on the skills gap by the U.S. federal government’s Chief Information Officer’s Council and the National Academy of Public Administration have played a role in helping to close this gap, he added.