Future Career Trends from Microsoft

By Jason W. Eckert

At the Microsoft EnergizeIT conference today in Toronto, many of the keynote speakers discussed changes within the IT career marketplace as well as career trends for the future.

First and foremost was the growing emphasis for soft skills and business skills in future IT jobs, and that there is nothing “soft” about soft skills (soft skills = superior communication skills). In addition, it was speculated that long-term life learning for a broad skill set will be more important to IT professionals in the future, which contrasts the fast product knowledge (i.e. obtained through a boot camp) that IT professionals required for their jobs in the 1990s.

Moreover, certification exams should test focused practical skills through simulation questions to better match the skills needs of organizations when hiring (the new Microsoft certification track is doing this already).

Although the IT industry in Canada has been growing at a healthy rate for many years now, Microsoft noted that there still exists a stereotype in industry that discourages people from entering IT due to the poor IT hiring situation in 2001-2002 and the notion that IT is a cost centre (uses money and will be downsized as necessary) rather than a profit centre (creates technology that drives company innovation). Microsoft also encouraged the audience to negate this stereotype where possible since IT people will be needed as the IT baby boomer population retires in the next five years.

I think that these points are all well-observed and valid to a certain point in Canada. I often hear the need for soft/business skills today in the IT industry as well as reliable, task-focused skills that have been obtained through practice. In addition, I still find that many companies see IT as a cost centre rather than a vital component of the organization.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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