Why is reskilling crucial in IT?

The most popular programming languages change from year to year.

Managing an IT department is not like riding a bike: You can't count on just mastering it once and being set for all time, as there's plenty more to learn as new technologies rapidly emerge and become incorporated into products and services. Consider that a decade ago, commercial-scale cloud computing was still in its earliest days, distributed denial-of-service attacks were relatively weak and most mobile devices couldn't even record video. Someone frozen in time with an early 2008 IT skill set and subsequently thawed in 2018 would be significantly behind their peers who had continually reskilled.

Reskilling is ultimately important in IT because the industry's main tools of the trade – i.e., hardware and software – are always being upgraded, often with major implications for their respective applications and security features. Accordingly, the most prominent IT skills in demand frequently include cybersecurity proficiency, expertise in data analytics, machine learning and specific types of programming for harnessing the raw power of cutting-edge infrastructure.

Reskilling in action: The IT infrastructure maintenance example

A traditional caricature of the IT team is as a group of people tasked with addressing various technical issues across a firm's operations – everything from an unresponsive CRM platform to a server long overdue for an upgrade. There's still some truth to this portrayal. IT is the go-to department for maintenance and technical support at many organizations, although the rise of cloud computing in particular has diminished some of its clout and necessitated significant reskilling.

Cloud computing has upended traditional notions of IT maintenance and upgrading.Cloud computing has upended traditional notions of IT maintenance and upgrading.

According to the book "The New Culture of Learning," the half-life of a skill is only about 5 years, meaning that something learned a decade ago is virtually obsolete. In IT, such deterioration is most apparent in domains like routine infrastructure maintenance, in which old practices assuming the presence of extensive on-premises assets don't account for the surging popularity of cloud-based solutions such as Infrastructure-as-a-Service.

Oracle's John Abel explained the reskilling situation on this front by highlighting the evolution of IT into a broker of cloud solutions for the entire organization as well as an engine of software development within DevOps cultures. Simply serving as the in-house maintenance team is no longer enough if IT is to serve as a source of strategic advantage for companies in the era of cloud computing.

"The half-life of a skill is only about 5 years."

How retraining can help develop top IT skills

Infrastructure maintenance is a broad category; what about more specific ones, such as which programming languages or security capabilities IT workers should focus on? Recent history provides some good examples of how quickly the perceived top IT skills can change, and why it's a good idea to seek IT staffing services that find the most qualified candidates for every position:

Programming languages

It wasn't that long ago that Perl was an enormously popular language, such that is was a frequent component of the LAMP (Linux Apache MySql PHP/Perl/Python) stack. However, it has become less prominent over time, leading to a shortage of skilled personnel and a lack of third-party frameworks incorporating it. As a result, staffing for a modern development project might require reskilling programmers in newer, more common languages along with the various libraries and tools built for them. Expertise in an in-demand language such as JavaScript - once dismissed as faulty web browser language - can greatly improve a candidate's career prospects.

Security capabilities

Similarly, traditional approaches to network security such as building an internal security information and event management (SIEM) platform have fallen out of favor as their costs have risen and far outstripped any associated benefits. SIEMs are now frequently built into cloud-based security operations centers (SOCs) that are much more cost-effective, in addition to being routinely patched and monitored 24/7 by the managed service provider's security engineers. For IT professionals, maintaining up-to-date security credentials will necessitate knowing when it makes sense to deploy SOCs to adequately address the growing scope of cyber attacks.

Reskilling takes time, even as companies look to move quickly to weave in new technologies. IT staffing services from a proven provider like Paramount can help you find the right personnel for each situation. Learn more by contacting us today.