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Today’s IT industry is at the heart of our economy with a central role in supporting government and a key means to support the growth of UK industry. The UK is also home to two of the world’s leading IT companies – ARM Technologies whose processor designs power most smartphones and tablets and Autonomy, an innovative software provider acquired in 2011 by HP.

The IT industry also has its challenges, one of which is the significant shortfall in new talent in key areas such as service management and cyber security. A recent report from the REC indicated that the hardest areas to recruit into today are C#, C++ and JavaScript developers. Graduates with practical skills in these areas have only to demonstrate their employability skills to be able to secure a well-paid job.

Increasingly though, new areas are coming to the fore; e-Skills UK, the government agency responsible for identifying future skills needs in the IT industry, reported in 2011 that the areas of greatest skills shortage will be service management and cyber security.

Two key areas for future employment

Service management

Service management is about the management, operation and support of IT systems already in operation. With so many software development roles having moved offshore over the last decade, the role of the service manager has become central to many large organisations.

The chief information officer in a large corporation is more concerned today with the availability of their systems and the customer service their organisations provide than they are with software development or deployment activities.

Cyber security

To really stand out though, today’s graduates need look no further than cyber security. The severe shortage of people with cyber skills has led the coalition government to invest £650m in the UK cyber security strategy – a central theme of which is skills development. To support the need to find new talent, the industry created a consortium to launch the Cyber Security Challenge, which has just entered its third year.

As more and more services move to the cloud, security becomes increasingly important. For example, have you ever considered where services such as Google Apps, Dropbox and iCloud are hosted? Who has access to your data, and is it secure?

Entry to this exciting area of the industry is often initiated with an interest in networks or systems administration. New graduates can develop these skills either through their employer’s own development programmes or through study with providers such as The Open University, who offer many career development options for graduates in the workplace.

How to get on in the IT industry

It’s important to remember that whilst the initial role for a graduate may be in software development, anyone who can demonstrate that they are continuing to learn, particularly about service management or cyber security, can quickly move on to the highest paid, most influential and rewarding roles the industry has to offer.

About the Author

  • About Kevin Streater: Kevin Streater, FLPI FBCS CITP MIET is Head of IT Industry Engagement at The Open University. He is a Chartered Fellow of the BCS – The Chartered Institute for IT and member of the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) Council.

Kevin Streater

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