CIOs Want More Technical Skills

By Allen Bernard

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In a new survey by Robert Half Technology (RHT), 25% of CIOs ranked technical skills as the area in which their IT staff could most use improvement.

Project management abilities were a close second with 23% of the response. But the question is somewhat deceiving because most CIOs lump soft-skills—communication, team work, ability to take direction, etc.—in with project management abilities, said John Estes, VP of RHT. And these are exactly the skills sought after in order to bring IT and business closer together.

"Because what (clients) are saying is even if you’re a developer and not a project manager we really want you to think like a business person, think like project manager, think about what the big picture is for this project, said Estes.

"It's interesting because nowadays it's like companies are saying, 'You know what? Technical skills are like Jacks-or-better-to-open', it's just kind of gets you in the door. Now it's all about 'Okay, what else do you have?' It's really so much more emphasis on these others skills; just a complete change from the late '90's early 2000's."

The national poll includes responses from more than 1,400 CIOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees. It was conducted by an independent research firm.

CIOs were asked, “In which of the following areas do you think your IT staff could most use improvement?”

  • Technical abilities 25%
  • Project management skills 23%
  • Verbal and written communication abilities 15%
  • Organizational skills 14%
  • Interpersonal skills 12%
  • None/no improvements needed 3%
  • Other/don’t know 8%
  • “Technology changes rapidly, making it crucial for IT staff to constantly learn new skills to keep pace with industry advancements,” said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology in a statement. “While it’s ultimately up to the individual to keep his or her technical abilities current, the best employers invest in ongoing professional development for employees at all levels.”

    “Professional development programs also can aid a company’s recruitment and retention efforts. In today’s competitive IT hiring market, employees want to work for firms that encourage them to build new skills and assume more challenging responsibilities.”