ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, June 19, 2018
ACM CareerNews is intended as an objective career news digest for busy IT professionals. Views expressed are not necessarily those of ACM. To send comments, please write to [email protected]
Volume 14, Issue 12, June 19, 2018
The proliferation of network-connected devices, the adoption of cloud services and the exponential rise in security threats are leading to the emergence of new IT hiring trends. According to an IDC survey, it is precisely these trends that will determine which IT roles will be hot in the future. Despite the central role that technology and the technology workforce play in this digital era, certain key roles stand out from the pack in terms of importance and opportunity. Moreover, there is increasing evidence that organizations are moving away from the belief that digital transformation is driven by new technology alone.
The number of IT positions in some roles will shrink, and some will grow. Overall, IT will add over 4 million well-paying jobs through 2027. Some IT roles will be niche and have only a few positions. But some IT roles will have high demand and lots of new positions. Some of these roles will be hard to fill, meaning there will be significant shortages of available IT professionals. Highest value skills serve critical technology intersections, such as cybersecurity, cloud, data analytics, IoT and converged infrastructure. IT organizations are developing and hiring people to fill these roles right now. These roles also represent the future of IT, as they will add more than 5 million positions (a 36% increase) worldwide by 2027.
Why Companies Are Taking It Upon Themselves to Help Workers Learn New Skills
Entrepreneur.com, June 13
Companies are competing for highly skilled talent, but internal training programs are still few and far between. Even large companies that have a dedicated learning and development function do not have the resources and expertise to teach all of those new skills to people distributed around the world. For small companies, such resources are obviously even more limited, with more than half of small businesses not having learning programs focused on building new skills. The future, though, is all about the education and up-skilling that is going to be happening in the workplace, sponsored by employers who are realizing they are not going to be able to hire their way out of this problem.
Online learning platforms are increasingly vying to be part of the solution in order to help organizations address the IT talent gap. Often, the people taking courses on these platforms are employees at companies, not students. Workers present completion certificates to their employers to verify that they have learned new skills, as a way to advance in their careers. Some of the most popular courses include deep learning, machine learning, data science and digital marketing. Many programs are available as modules of a larger degree offered from universities, such as those that are part of the Coursera online learning platform. This approach to education offers a faster and more flexible option than going back to school. This will be increasingly crucial as technology accelerates and workers require retraining throughout long careers.
It is possible to carve out a career in cybersecurity without pursuing a conventional path. The only obstacle is that many people are intimidated by the thought of a cybersecurity career. They believe security jobs require deep technical expertise in networks and operating systems, as well as extensive academic training and certifications. While those elements can accelerate career growth, the opportunities to break into the cybersecurity field have never been greater. Market forces are driving this massive opportunity. The IT industry is facing a cybersecurity skills crisis that is expected to leave up to 1.8 million jobs unfilled by 2021.
Colleges and universities cannot possibly fill the skills gap on their own, so technology firms are getting more creative than ever about solutions. Increasingly, they are looking for candidates from different areas beyond just IT. In large part, that is because cybersecurity job growth is three times the rate of overall IT job growth. When it comes to these new jobs, skills matter more than degrees. Motivated employees who love their work and demonstrate ambition and a willingness to advance their skills can learn what they need through a combination of on-the-job training and ongoing education.
Building Your CIO Career Plan in 5 Steps
Business News Daily, May 23
By thinking in terms of a five-step career plan, you can establish a path to the CIO role at your organization. This path could take a decade or longer to complete and will be challenging along the way, but with the right commitment, it is possible. The starting point is having the right academic credentials. In addition to a university degree in computer science or a related technical field (such as management information systems), it is important to focus on building the right portfolio of skills and experiences that will catapult you into the corner office.
In terms of having the right skills to become CIO, first try to get experience and credentials in project management. Project management skills are a big plus for aspiring CIOs. You can either do this on the job, such as by becoming a project manager, or you can do so by picking up a project management certification. From there, you will want to find a specialty and build your technical credibility. As you get into your undergraduate degree curriculum you will be able to zero in on some technical subjects where the job opportunities are strongest. You might want to peruse a list of the best IT certifications to get an idea of what kinds of specialties are out there, and what kinds of certifications go along with them. After you earn your undergraduate degree, you will want to start digging into one or two certification ladders to start building a portfolio to establish your technical credibility.
How To Hire the Right People to Create a Digital Culture in Your Organization
Tech Republic, June 12
With the right leaders and hiring practices in place, even large, entrenched organizations can adopt the cultures of digital leaders in order to compete with and even surpass their offerings. Digital represents a seismic shift, and that presents a number of issues for organizations, which must figure out a way to connect the past of an organization to its future. For example, organizations need to focus on key performance indicators (KPIs) when it comes to changing culture, so that they can determine how their decisions play out in the long run.
What makes the process of digital transformation particularly difficult is that, when it comes to hiring for a digital culture, the right people often may not appear to have the rights skills and exercises. Digitally transforming requires companies to change their lens on talent. In the past, organizations overemphasized technical capabilities when hiring engineers. Today, that pendulum has swung to the other side, as companies are looking for technical talent that can also communicate clearly. Workers need to explain to the business what they are working on and how they are driving the business forward.
How AI Can Combat Labor Displacement
Information Week, June 11
While artificial intelligence (AI) may have its fair share of skeptics, a growing number of experts now say that AI will prevent, not cause, job loss. In short, as artificial intelligence enters all aspects of our everyday lives, more attention needs to be given to how AI can help combat workforce disruptions. In particular, business leaders can use AI to better understand the demand for new roles, and plan for re-skilling to address anticipated changes in the market for skilled jobs.
As a first step in addressing the AI skills gap, employers need to prepare their workers for the AI future. As machines become progressively more intelligent, workers who can adapt to change and update their skill sets will be best equipped to work alongside smart robots. Yet, many companies are not yet giving employees the AI skills they need to succeed. According to a recent survey, for example, just one in four employees agreed their company equips them with the skills they need to take advantage of AI. The view of senior executives is no different. Only 38% say their organizations currently provide re-skilling options to address technology disruption.
Growing Job Pressures Increase Risk of Burnout for Cybersecurity Professionals
Dark Reading (Information Week), May 23
The task of constantly keeping up with new threats and regulatory requirements has made cybersecurity a high-pressure career field for technology professionals in recent years. There are no signs that will change anytime soon. A global survey of 1,600 IT professionals shows that a majority of cybersecurity executives and practitioners believed they were under more pressure at their jobs in 2017 compared with the year before. They expect 2018 to be no different. If the trend persists, either the pressure will push people to improved performance or it is going to cause them to look for other opportunities.
In the latest survey of cybersecurity professionals, 54% of the respondents reported experiencing more security pressures in 2017 compared to 2016, and 55% expect 2018 to be worse than last year. More cybersecurity professionals in the U.S. (61%) feel that way than professionals in any other country. Advanced malware and zero-day vulnerabilities are the top cause for the pressure that security people feel on the operational side of things, with 26% citing that as a reason. Other top concerns include budget constraints at 17% and a lack of security skills at 16%. Phishing attacks became more of a pressure-inducer last year, with 13% identifying that as a stressor compared with 8% who said the same in 2016. For cybersecurity professionals, a lot of the pressure comes from the constant reminder that peer industries and major brands are being breached daily and that they need to improve to stay ahead.
Stop Falling Over Yourself to Hire For This Overrated Skill
Inc.com, June 8
With all the attention that is being paid to programming skills, some organizations might be going too far in their efforts to hire the very best coders. One common myth for new startups is that all that is needed is to find the very best coder, and your future success is imminent. Putting technical skills on a pedestal and ignoring all the other ingredients and skills needed for success could get you off to a very bad start. While all tech companies need strong technical staff, an army of ninja coders does not make a successful company. Instead, the secret sauce of successful companies is the human element.
During the process of hiring and retaining talent, soft skills matter as much as technical skills. After all, co-workers with many different skills are needed to take a company to the top. A great company, for example, will have an amazing business development person, talented marketers, brilliant sales people, and very accomplished strategic thinkers. Often, these workers do not even have a true technical background. Some of them come from the creative fields, where they are accomplished at both innovative and critical thinking.
The Goal of Software Testing
Blog @ CACM, May 30
The goal of software testing should be about more than just finding and reporting bugs. The reason is simple, yet often overlooked: finding errors in a program is not the same as making sure that a product works. Software by nature has an unlimited number of bugs. In fact, the probability of showing that the software works decreases as testing increases: the more you test, the more likely you are to find a bug. Therefore, if your objective is to demonstrate a high probability of working, that objective is best achieved by not testing at all. However, most testers fail to understand this. They tend to see software as a neatly packaged product that only needs a bit of polishing to run smoothly.
The real number of bugs in any software package can be limitless. No matter how big or small, simple or complex, old or new a product is, the potential for bugs is astronomical. Thus, it is impractical, often impossible, to find all the errors in a program. Even with limitless time and funding, testers cannot find all the bugs. Put another way, we cannot achieve 100% confidence no matter how much time and energy we put into it. Conventional software testing, then, is a bit of a paradox: it is supposed to give confidence that the product is working well, but it also supposed to uncover errors in the software product before its delivery to the customer. There has to be a certain point where testers stop looking for bugs. One of the most difficult questions to answer when testing a program is determining when to stop since there is no way of knowing if the error just detected is the last remaining error.
Reflections on SXSW 2018
eLearn Magazine, April 2018
SXSW EDU, an education-oriented conference that runs for four days before the full start of SXSW in Austin, offers a variety of sessions, activities, and hands-on testing opportunities to check out new tech resources. SXSW EDU is focused almost exclusively on K-12, though there are some sessions that are focused on higher education. At the event, the SXSW EDU Playground is the hands-on space where interactive sessions are housed alongside industry displays of new tools and products for the K-12 marketplace.
On the SXSW exposition floor, it was possible to learn more about new technologies that are specific to creative industries like film, music and advertising, and not just general to the technology field. It was also possible to get a sense of what kinds of tools are being advanced from a broad perspective that might have an impact on e-learning contexts. It was possible to go outside the box to think about how some tools might work in an online setting. For example, it was possible to learn about some technologies that allow you to use beacons and build apps to go from place to place in augmented reality. This technology could be highly useful in a variety of e-learning settings.
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