A regular feature of our Business and Industry Leadership Team (“BILT,” for short) meetings is a quick discussion of current and future trends. What are IT departments looking for in new hires today and what will they be looking for in 18 months? This is always a great way for our Convergence College Network (CCN) educators to hear curriculum suggestions directly from business and industry executives. At a recent BILT meeting, the talk – as usual – focused on two familiar topics:
- Security, security, security – More and more, it’s not about preventing security breaches, it’s about accepting those breaches as inevitable and being prepared to mitigate the damage. As one BILT member put it, “You used to be told to spend more and more money on firewalls, but now you’re told that you probably over-spent on firewalls.” That is, no matter how much you spend on security, there’s going to be someone out who can circumvent that security. Students need to understand security threats and identify risk in systems they’re managing. What’s normal network activity, what’s abnormal activity, and how can IT technicians and systems recognize the difference?
- The importance of “soft skills” – Businesses continue to express concern that new hires aren’t yet able to handle interpersonal relationships or demonstrate critical thinking. A Thomas Friedman quote was invoked: “We don’t hire people because of what they know because Google knows more than they know—we hire them for what they do with what they know.” Graduates need a mastery of IT skills, yes, but that’s not enough. Ideally, new hires will have a more holistic understanding of IT, an understanding of how everything connects together. Businesses want well-rounded job candidates with experience working in groups, providing root cause analyses that see the big picture, and understanding their role in the organization.