IT pros 'need better communication skills'

A new report warns that technical ability alone isn't enough. Employers are demanding a wider range of attributes, such as teamwork skills and customer relations experience
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

Employers are seeking much more than just technical ability from their IT staff, with teamwork and social skills increasingly essential, a new survey has found.

A report published on Thursday by City & Guilds, a vocational qualifications awarding body, claims that the days of IT pros being "resident office nerd, allergic to conversation and operating in a world of their own" will soon be over.

Instead, IT staff who also offer general business and communications skills are likely to be more successful at getting and keeping a job, in what is a much tougher job market than a few years ago.

According to City & Guilds, there is widespread consensus that the role of IT professionals is changing.

Three-quarters of IT recruitment consultants interviewed for the survey said it was vital that IT staff were good communicators, with almost 70 percent believing that customer relations experience is also important. Business knowledge is also useful, according to six in ten of the recruiters spoken to.

Many IT professionals may believe that they already offer these skills on top of their technical abilities, but their employers might not agree. A third of the IT recruitment consultants interviewed said they are having trouble finding IT workers with these softer skills. City & Guilds found that interpersonal skills are hardest to find, followed by customer relationship management and then business knowledge.

Recruiters also warned that failure to offer such skills could cost an IT worker up to £5,000 per year.

"The role of the IT professional within the UK workforce is changing radically," said Paul McCloskey, product manager for e-Quals -- an IT qualification run by City & Guilds.

"Employers are increasingly recognising the commercial and financial value of recruiting individuals who combine broad business and communication skills with sound technical abilities. In our view, this combined approach is the most effective way for today's IT practitioners to gain a competitive edge whilst boosting their earning potential and employability," McCloskey explained.

For a round-up of the latest tech business coverage, see the Business News Section.

Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom.

Editorial standards