The Status of It Skills in Business during Recessionary Times: Implications for Educators

By Hite, Nancy | The Journal of Research in Business Education, Fall 2012 | Go to article overview

The Status of It Skills in Business during Recessionary Times: Implications for Educators


Hite, Nancy, The Journal of Research in Business Education


Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to identify the demand for information technology (IT) skills in the business world in order to provide guidance to curriculum planners. Method: Want ads in two online job banks were queried using various IT skills as key words. Results: Results show demand is strong for the following IT skills: SQL, JAVA, C++, UNIX, Linux, and HTML/DHTML. Demand was low for all desktop publishing skills except for Photoshop. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) skills are more often required of accounting and finance employees than IT employees. Educators should consider including database (SQL), programming languages (JAVA and C++), operating systems (UNIX and/or Linux) and web design skills (HTML) in their curriculums.

Background

University business teacher educators prepare students to teach not just general business, accounting, and marketing courses but also computer courses. To require appropriate undergraduate course work for business teachers, business teacher educators must know what computer software and programming language skills to include in our undergraduate business education programs. The computer skills included in these programs should be based on the business demand for those skills in order to adequately prepare students who will teach at the high school and post-secondary levels.

Information technology (IT) continues to evolve at a rapid pace, encouraging the need for educational offerings that meet the changing needs of industry. Keeping up with the needs of business through curricular offerings in the information technology field has been an issue for decades not just in business education undergraduate programs but also in information systems programs, one that a model curriculum has attempted to address. In the IS 2009: Curriculum Guidelines for Undergraduate Degree Programs in Information Systems (Topi et al., 2009) report, recommendations were made to bridge the gap between industry needs and academic preparation. Those curriculum recommendations primarily focused on non-technical skills including the expansion of information systems across other fields such as health care and government as well as an emphasis on soft skills such as the importance of good problem solving as well as interpersonal and team skills.

A model curriculum can provide useful information to G? curriculum planners; however, in order to bridge the gap between academic offerings and industry demand, further analysis of the national demand for specific G? skill sets is needed. Information technology educators at all levels need to be aware of the most-used information technologies so they can emphasize the skills that will best prepare students for the job market and de-emphasize the skills that are least used in businesses. The rapid evolution of information technology (G?) skills makes it imperative that educators at all levels align their course content with the information technology skills most in demand in the business marketplace.

Related Literature

Even though the economy has experienced the worst recession in over 70 years, the U.S. government is quite optimistic about the occupational outlook for certain information systems careers with computer and information systems managers being listed as the third highest job category, with 50,000 job openings being available between 2008-2018 (Occupational employment, 2010). In testimony to the U.S. Congress (Katz, 2010), a Harvard University professor projected 175,000 jobs for computer software engineers in the U.S. between 2008-2018, 156,000 jobs for network and data communications analysts, 120,000 for computer software engineers, 108,000 jobs for computer systems analysts, and 79,000 for network and computer systems administrators, and 37,000 for graphic designers.

Technical skills needed by IT professionals change more rapidly than soft skills. Results of a study of 153 G? professionals from six organizations showed that, while soft skills are important, those professional IT workers believe that technical skills are a critical component of an information systems education, particularly database skills (including SQL), having two computer language skills, and web design proficiency (Downey, McMurtrey & Zeltmann, 2008). …

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