ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, October 6, 2020
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 16, Issue 19, October 6, 2020
The tech workplace of 2035 will look very different from the one today, but it is not too early to begin thinking about which tech skills will be in demand in the future. For example, new research from Citrix attempts to shed light on what the rise of artificial intelligence means for the IT workforce 15 years from now. As AI continues its expansion into all corners of every major industry, employees have speculated about what it means for their own place in the workforce. But contrary to the popular opinion that machines will eventually replace us all, a study of 500 C-suite leaders and 1,000 employees by Citrix concluded that AI will in fact make us smarter, more efficient, and open up brand new roles in the IT workplace.
New AI-powered jobs will be designed to support the technology-driven workplace and the changing relationship between humans and machines. Since machine learning and AI algorithms are only as useful as the data they are trained on, 82% of leaders and 44% of employees surveyed by Citrix believe that dedicated AI trainer roles will be needed in the future workplace. Other new roles predicted for the workforce of 2035 include virtual reality manager (79% of leaders and 36% of employees), advanced data scientist (76% of leaders and 35% of employees), privacy and trust manager (68% of leaders and 30% of employees), and design thinker (56% of leaders and 27% of employees). Over half of workers thought that full-time employees would be rare in 15 years, and just over half of managers thought the majority of high-value specialist workers will work as on-demand and freelance contractors.
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began, technologists forced to work remotely have been re-thinking whether they should continue living in expensive cities such as San Francisco and New York. As an alternative, they could move to emerging tech hubs or metropolitan areas with a lower cost of living. Major tech companies have complicated the issue somewhat. While firms such as Facebook, VMware, and Twitter have announced that the majority of their employees can now work from home on a permanent basis, other companies have made it clear that they want employees back in the office eventually.
If you are working for a company that now allows remote work, and you want to relocate from San Francisco to Boise, then your decision may seem relatively straightforward in terms of costs and benefits. However, what if after moving, you apply to work at a rival that wants employees at its headquarters at least a few days a week? Would you have to move back? That is not the only complication here, but it illustrates how technologists everywhere will grapple with some pretty complex issues in the months and years ahead. In the meantime, Blind, which anonymously surveys technologists everywhere on a variety of topics, has asked its audience if they have already decided to flee some of the most expensive, largest tech hubs. While the sample sizes are relatively small, what is clear is that the majority of technologists have stuck with their cities. Whether it is New York or San Francisco, Seattle or Austin, the overall trend appears to be that only a minority of technologists has actually left their cities.
To stand out in a competitive market, it is important to position yourself well in the application process with a high-impact resume. According to recruiters, there are some common missteps to avoid when building your resume, as well as some tips on what to focus on instead. One of the best ways to set yourself apart from the competition is to describe, in detail and with outcomes, your accomplishments instead of just your tasks. Applicants should also focus on building a resume that specifically mentions key job description objectives listed by employers.
In a 2017 LinkedIn analysis, the following buzzwords appeared most frequently on user profiles: specialized, experienced, skilled, leadership, passionate, expert, motivated, creative, strategic and focused. While using them on a resume is not inherently a bad idea, try to avoid using language that might be vague or overused. Many organizations now use an applicant tracking system to digitally sort and prioritize resumes before they even reach the hands of a hiring manager. Tailor your vocabulary to match the language of the job description. The higher your keyword match frequency, the more likely your resume will advance to the next phase of the process. For example, if a job posting seeks a lead programmer with knowledge of both commercial and open source software, your skill section might emphasize that you are a lead programmer with expertise in software security, design strategy, and commercial and open source software.
New Report Outlines Possible Solutions for Cybersecurity Skills Gap
eWeek, September 24
Within the tech industry, the cybersecurity skills gap continues to widen, and that is forcing organizations to create new workforce solutions for bridging this gap. A new report by Fortinet highlights five different ways that the industry can work to close the ongoing cybersecurity skills gap. Based on extensive surveys of individuals who oversee cybersecurity at their organizations, the report concludes organizations must go beyond traditional means of recruiting talent to fill security roles. For example, organizations should increase their use of technology-focused certifications as a way for workers to transition into new cybersecurity roles. In addition, they should be actively recruiting from underrepresented demographic groups.
Technology-focused certifications can play a key role in addressing the cybersecurity skills gap, based on the fact that many employers already have a high regard for individuals with technology-focused certifications. Certifications go beyond demonstrating knowledge and expertise in cybersecurity concepts. They allow individuals to learn new knowledge that makes it easier for them to transition into cybersecurity, even if their advanced degrees were not in cybersecurity or tech or their current role is completely different. They also enable professionals to continually update their knowledge and skills to stay current with industry trends and evolving threats. Overall, employees in every role need consistent, high-quality training on basic cybersecurity and cyber awareness. Organizations need a new training paradigm that delivers appropriate content without disrupting business. There are many forms of less traditional training methods that have been scientifically proven to be very effective and can address challenges leaders are facing in building a truly cyber aware workforce. Examples of non-traditional training techniques include micro-learning, gamification, digital badging and awareness campaigns.
The Role of Blockchain In Reshaping The Future Of Work
Forbes, September 1
Blockchain technology could make a huge difference in helping IT organizations find the right person for the job, primarily by acting as a trusted source of truth for employers and delivering a greater sense of data security for employee records. The use case for blockchain technology recognizes that validating credentials to finalize a new hire can be difficult at best. Personal references can often be unreachable or unresponsive, past roles may be unverifiable due to the companies being defunct or acquired, and credentials from other countries are incredibly hard to validate. As a result, blockchain technology has an opportunity in the workplace to help validate data about career history, educational background, and accreditations.
The primary problem that blockchain can remedy is the fragmented and unreliable data underlying current HR processes and systems. While organizations have made progress in their ability to manage employee data, many employees now have multiple employers or are taking gig assignments on the side. This makes it difficult for a single employer to have the holistic picture needed to drive personalized solutions and derive value through analytics. In fact, most of this career data is scattered across multiple platforms and databases, with proprietary restrictions making access either difficult or prohibitively expensive. While this data problem pre-existed COVID-19, many virus-fueled job displacements have sparked a greater sense of urgency.
The 20 Things Millennial Workers Are Looking For Today
Entrepreneur.com, September 29
Millennials are changing the way we work as well as the strategies for attracting and retaining talent in companies. Millennials are characterized by their knowledge of technology and social networks, as well as for being multitaskers, dreamers and entrepreneurs. So if you want to attract and retain them in your organization, you must keep in mind what they are looking for in a job. More than money, these young people are motivated by professional growth and development. If you want to retain them, you must let them know that in your company they will be able to achieve these objectives and reach higher positions.
Micromanaging does not work for millennials, so think about ways to give them plenty of independence in their IT roles. You do not need to be on top of them all the time. Let them think and act, give them a guide and a delivery time, and allow them to define their times and processes. Moreover, try swapping the role of boss for that of mentor. Do not dedicate yourself to giving them orders, but to guiding them and giving them the tools they need. Contrary to what many people think, millennials like to receive advice and trust the people they admire. In terms of flexibility, do not impose hours on them or require them to work inside the office. This traditional practice in companies is a killer of motivation and creativity. Get them to choose their hours (as long as this does not affect your productivity) and encourage them to work from home or in a third place.
Half of Young Women Will Leave Their Tech Job By Age 35, Study Finds
CNET, September 29
Half of young women who go into tech jobs leave by age 35, according to a new report from IT consulting firm Accenture and tech education organization Girls Who Code. Thirty-seven percent of respondents who said they had left the industry listed a non-inclusive company culture as their reason for leaving. The study, called Resetting Tech Culture, gathered information from 1,990 tech workers and 500 senior human resources leaders in companies employing people in technology jobs. It also gathered information from 2,700 college students. This type of attrition is a setback for an industry that is already struggling with a lack of diversity, with the proportion of women actually declining in the last three decades.
One major conclusion of the new report is that women have actually fallen further behind at the very moment when tech roles are surging and technological innovation is vital to the U.S. economy. The study also comes at a time when tech companies have faced increased scrutiny over the demographic imbalances in their workforces. High-profile names like Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and others release diversity reports every year showing incremental progress. Yet, despite investing time, money and PR into corporate diversity efforts, tech companies are still plagued with reports of workplace discrimination. The report also comes as more than 30,000 women are expected to gather virtually for the Grace Hopper Celebration, a 20-year-running conference devoted to supporting women in technology.
The State of Ethnic Minorities in Tech
ComputerWorld.com, September 21
The tech industry has been talking about increasing minority participation for decades, and now it appears that the tech workforce is finally showing early signs of becoming more diverse. A Wired survey in October 2019 estimated the combined minority population at 5% for Silicon Valley firms. For IT overall, the numbers are better: the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission Bureau estimated those groups together account for 16% of the industry population last year. In 2020, TrustRadius surveyed employees at both tech providers and IT organizations to find out the status of ethnic minorities in the tech industry, while seeking out minority voices for a direct take.
In general, geographic location correlates to improved diversity, with some metro areas showing greater perceived diversity gains than others. Respondents in two metro areas highly associated with the greater Silicon Valley tech-provider industry (Austin, Texas and San Francisco, California) saw less improvement in perceived diversity gains than several other areas identified as emerging tech hubs. TrustRadius theorizes that the high cost of living in those tech-provider-heavy areas makes it less likely that minorities can afford to live there, given that minorities often make less than whites in the U.S. The common focus on hiring people from elite universities by Silicon Valley companies could be another factor, also reflecting underlying economic inequality.
Implications of Online Learning for Novice Students
Blog@CACM, September 21
Online teaching has many implications for pedagogy, teacher-student communication, grading, and other campus aspects of education, such as social life and administration. Although online teaching can take many forms, all online courses share the same basic idea of students studying off-campus, usually alone. The problem, however, is the fact that many students learn best through direct interaction provided by professors and other students. In a broader sense, the on-campus experience encompasses not only social events, but also a framework that enhances learning habits and provides important tools for successful graduation. As a result, the on-campus experience is important in order to become acquainted with other students and form social networks. It also helps students acquire learning skills even when such skills are not taught explicitly.
In general, experienced students are more willing to exploit available campus-related resources, such as online materials, recorded lectures, and office hours, more frequently than novice students. They also knew peers from previous semesters, and therefore assisted each other and were assisted by others. Finally, being familiar with the role of the teaching staff, they also consulted more frequently with the course staff. On the other hand, novice students were not familiar with other students or with the course staff, and therefore communicated with them less frequently. Novice students did, however, use resources they are familiar with: social networks and people outside their academic learning environment. Overall, this implies that online learning is more challenging for novice students than for experienced students since it does not enable them to master learning techniques that can be acquired only through on-campus experience.
COVID-19: Challenges and Possibilities in the Transition to Online Education
eLearn Magazine, September 2020
In 2020, higher education institutions had to switch from face-to-face to online instruction due to social distancing and lockdown measures adopted across the world. Even though some countries have decided to reopen some services, by July 2020, as many as 110 countries still mandated system-wide school closures affecting more than 1 billion learners worldwide. The physical closure of educational institutions, including many in higher education, has led to the adoption of online tools. This move toward online instruction occurred in the context of the COVID-19 global pandemic, but it could have lasting consequences in the provision of higher education.
The shift to online education has had a particularly dramatic impact in Latin America, where universities also had to adapt to the new reality of this global health emergency closing educational buildings worldwide. The move to the online provision of higher education took place in the context of rapid changes. Higher education leaders across the region called for adopting emergency remote education (ERE) and possible hybrid approaches in the post-COVID world. Those calls reiterate the importance of developing solutions to attenuate lasting inequality in the region. As higher education institutions in Latin America rushed to move their teaching online, they faced at least two core limitations: the disadvantages generated by the unequal access to technology and the internet and their capacity to do so in a short time and with limited capacity.
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