Companies Find IT Grads Lack Aptitude, Business Skills

When the job market is tight, you’d think that hiring managers in IT would have no trouble finding the technical skills and professional preparation they need from those graduating with information technology degrees. But unfortunately, you’d be wrong. Only only eight percent of hiring managers rate graduates as “well trained, ready to go.” However, bad news for companies is good news for properly prepared job candidates.

According to a new IBM-sponsored survey of 376 organizations, companies need “graduates with specific IT skills in enterprise programming languages and mainframe administration skills, as well as business skills such as problem-solving and communications abilities.” The findings suggest that a quarter of companies found that candidates lacked the necessary technical aptitude.

When it came to having the proper business skills, results were even worse. Close to 40 percent of companies reported that, from a business view, IT hires were insufficiently prepared to do their jobs. Another 44 percent said that new hires at a minimum had “notable gaps in skills.”

Many universities fail to provide IT workers with a real-world skill set suitable for the corporate environment. This is unfortunate because a large majority of corporations hire new graduates with little to no practical experience. Companies “overwhelmingly” agree that colleges and universities should give students the essential skills to run IT departments:

  • 77 percent of the companies look for programming skills
  • 82 percent look for database skills
  • 76 percent look for analysis and architecture skills
  • 60 percent of the companies will hire programmers this year and want understanding of application server environments, database languages, and Java

In addition, companies need people with skills in backup and recovery, storage administration, security and disaster recovery. A third of the companies also need employees who can help bring together the IT and business worlds. More than half of these companies need project managers, individuals with enterprise architecture skills, and people with business intelligence degrees.

A Dice.com survey last year found that Java programming positions were the most difficult to fill. Other tough-to-find skills on the top ten list were C# programming, security, database administration, SAP, and Oracle.

Those who do have the proper skills can look forward to higher IT salaries this year, according to staffing company TEKsystems. In its quarterly IT executive outlook survey of 1,000 respondents, 57 percent saw IT project needs only increasing over the next six months, with 54 percent of them needing mobile applications, 42 percent with virtualization initiatives, and 45 percent looking to expand business intelligence capabilities. Because of the need for people, nearly 60 percent of the survey respondents expect that IT staff salaries would increase this year, with project managers, database administrators, and enterprise architects getting the biggest raises.

Dr. Danette Lance, business and technology professor at American Sentinel University, explains that, “while the software development degree [at American Sentinel] concentrates on C++ programming, our students are required to take courses in C# and VB.net as well as Java to prepare them for the business environment. In addition to programming classes our students are required to take architecture, systems analysis and problem solving courses to ensure they receive a well-rounded education. Our faculty are industry trained experts in these fields, providing our students with real world problems to solve.”

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