The top skills IT professionals need to succeed

Cyber security and cloud skills are crucial for IT professionals to advance their careers over the next five years. That’s a key finding of the newly released 2021 Canadian IT Skills Report.

The report combines the results of a survey of 500 IT professionals across Canada with advice by leading Canadian CIOs on how IT workers can future proof their careers. The survey was conducted by IT World Canada and CanadianCIO.

Jim Love, who heads up the research group at IT World Canada noted, “At this time when we are all struggling with a shortage of the right skills, we feel this type of research and this report is tremendously important.”

Ninety per cent of survey respondents said that the ability to implement, monitor, or provide real-time cybersecurity was the top skill they need for the future. Cloud skills were rated as an important asset by 84 per cent of the participants. IT project management and data analysis were also identified as useful skills.

According to the CIOs, there is a high demand for candidates with the right skills and the ability to adapt to a fast-changing environment. “We’ve entered a new space of how businesses will operate and how people will work,” said Catherine Chick, senior vice president for IT at Canada Goose. “From an IT perspective, it’s a huge opportunity because it’s all underpinned by technology.”

The value of cloud skills

Sixty-eight per cent say the pandemic has sped up the need to build cloud skills. This is consistent with the high number of participants that see cloud as a trending technology in a post-pandemic environment. The respondents identified four career advantages to be gained from developing cloud skills:

  • Eighty-two per cent of respondents say those with strong cloud skills will see more opportunities outside of their company.
  • Seventy per cent say cloud skills make them better able to adapt to the challenges presented by a constantly changing environment.
  • Sixty-seven per cent say it improves their future earning potential, and
  • Sixty-two per cent say it boosts their ability to meet customer needs.

IT leaders say they’re seeing greater competition and higher salaries among employers seeking to hire cloud experts. “It’s a challenge to get the right skill-sets for the cloud,” said Kin Lee-Yow, CIO of the CAA Club Group. “People need to know how to manage the environment. Organizations must remember they are still accountable for their own configurations when they shift to the cloud.”

How to differentiate yourself

It’s essential for IT professionals to embrace lifelong learning to advance their careers in this fast-paced environment, advised the CIOs in the report. “The best thing you can do for yourself is self-initiated learning,” said Corey Cox, vice president of information systems at the Tandet Group. “The IT professionals learning these skills because they want to learn them are going to be the rising stars.”  Indeed, the survey respondents are preparing for the future by participating in webinars, in-house training and through hands-on experience. They also believe that certifications, especially in security and cloud, will enhance their résumés.

Finally, the experts say that if IT professionals want to set themselves apart, they also need to focus on their communications and business skills. “Technical skills are nothing without understanding the business world,” said Cox. “You have to understand the business you work in so that you can bring value to the business.”

For a summary of the findings, check out this infographic.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT HERE (Registration required)

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Cindy Baker
Cindy Baker
Cindy Baker has over 20 years of experience in IT-related fields in the public and private sectors, as a lawyer and strategic advisor. She is a former broadcast journalist, currently working as a consultant, freelance writer and editor.

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