As the world becomes increasingly computer-orientated, the demand for IT personnel continues to rise.
To get into the profession, it is essential that candidates demonstrate the necessary skills, and the only way to do this for people who are new to a career in this field is through IT training, according to an expert.
Colin Steed, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of IT Training, reveals that people find it difficult to get into this line of work unless they can demonstrate the necessary expertise.
“It’s skills that employers are looking for – and the only way that those skills can be developed is through training,” he explains.
Mr Steed adds that anyone who wants to get into the profession should also get a clear idea of the type of job they want to do, determine the expertise needed for that role and then look at the options open to them in the way of training.
“Critical skills for a role will comprise technical skills, personal skills, business skills and attitude.
Over-focusing on the first of these is a recipe for disaster,” he suggests.
When it comes to searching for the right course, whether you are looking for become a technician or a certified network administrator, the starting point is finding training for qualifications that are accredited by industry-recognised bodies.
For technical skills, you should be looking at certification programmes from Microsoft, Cisco and CompTIA.
“There are two great points about these programmes – one, the sponsors have done the skills needs analysis, so there’s no need to do it again, and two, anyone can take the tests – they don’t have to have done formal training although it will certainly improve their chance of passing if they have,” Mr Steed explains.
Specific And Generic Skills.
“Whilst qualifications do prove that an individual has a specific skill-set, the candidate will still need to have a strong mix of generic and product-specific skills,” he adds.
Therefore, anyone looking to enter the IT profession will need to ensure that they not only have expertise in a particular area, such as Windows, but also have knowledge of more broad fields such as software-as-a-service.
“Getting the mix right can be fairly demanding and does need professional advice,” Mr Steed says.
Once you have got a foot-hold in the profession, it is vital to continue IT training in order to keep pace with this fast-moving industry.
“The real challenge for an IT professional is to keep their skills up-to-date,” explains Mr Steed. “Whilst that’s the case in all professions it’s much more of a challenge for IT professionals.
That’s because there are far more discrete specialisations in IT than in most other professions,” he explains.
Formal vs Informal Training.
Mr Steed recommends that employees map out their desired career, possibly with their boss or a mentor, so that they have a clear idea of the direction they want to take.
The good thing, he says, is that the field is “rich in qualifications”, and sponsors will highlight the precise skills needed, with the best ways of developing them.
So IT professionals simply need to identify the expertise they already have and what knowledge they need to acquire.
“The greater the skills gap, the stronger the case for formal classroom training, and, consequently, the more they know, the stronger the case for informal learning,” Mr Steed suggests.
Therefore, the likes of distance learning with online interactive tutorials might be more appropriate for those already in the sector who simply need to top up their expertise in order to gain the next stage of qualifications.
Of course, you are advised not to overestimate your skills, as you risk failing your exams and incurring re-sit fees.
“Keeping up-to-date is part and parcel of being an IT Professional,” Mr Steed insists.
“It’s for that reason that many qualifications demand re-sits after a period of time. So skills and career profession go hand-in-hand and therefore there’s a need for training – whether it’s formal or informal,” he concludes.