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IT Recruiting Changes In The Outsourcing Era

A CIO complains about poor communication skills and lack of business knowledge among the team. The CIO says those are the critical skills least likely to be outsourced. The CIO then hires entry-level people--and focuses entirely on technical skills like programming that are most likely to be outsourced.

This disconnect is reality at most companies. That's one of the intriguing findings in a research project backed by the Society for Information Management and carried out by a team of 19 academics. The study asked 89 top IT executives what skills they most value, with the goal of helping IT workers and universities adapt to market changes such as global sourcing, declining IT enrollments at U.S. colleges, and baby boomer retirements.

At the entry level, the study raises questions about how companies will nurture IT talent if they're outsourcing many routine tech jobs entry-level staff used to do. Of the 10 top skills most often cited for entry-level workers, only one is nontechnical: communication, cited by less than a third. Programming is No. 1, cited by almost half. But programming also is the most likely skill to be outsourced.

"When they hire at the entry level, they're only looking at technical skills," says Kate Kaiser, a professor of IT management at Marquette University and one of the study's leaders. "But they want them to become project managers."

When people move up to midlevel positions, the skills most sought after mirror those most critical to keep in-house: project skills, industry or functional knowledge, and high-level tech skills, the study finds.

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