Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Analysis of Skills Requirement for Entry-Level Programmer/analysts in Fortune 500 Corporations

Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Analysis of Skills Requirement for Entry-Level Programmer/analysts in Fortune 500 Corporations

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

The ongoing transformation in the nature of required job skills has been driven by sweeping changes in new technologies as well as by competition among companies driven to innovate by continuously upgrading and differentiating their products and services. This phenomenon has led IS workers to constantly move from one set of skills to another to cope with both business and technological changes. An important change that occurred within the IS field was the repositioning of its role from being merely a back office supporter to a strategic opportunity creator (Agarwal and Ferratt, 2001; Fusaro, 2001; Moore and Burke, 2002). Accordingly, this change has led organizations to look for IS professionals who have not only the highly-demanding, up-to-date skills for utilizing new technologies but also suitable skills for accomplishing organizational goals. This trend explains why many organizations continuously seek out well-trained IS graduates regardless of any downward trends in our economy or offshore outsourcing.

IS programs in higher learning institutions have long trained students to develop the appropriate skills needed for their future careers. Nevertheless, most business organizations are still under a difficulty in finding IS graduates who possess both the knowledge and skills best suited to their specific needs. Many researchers (Tang, Lee, and Koh, 2000; Lee, Nielsen, Trauth, and Venkatesh, 2000; Weber, McIntyer, and Schmidt,, 2001) assert that IS education programs are not in harmony with the requirements of the real world.

Dynamic IS trends coupled with an ever-changing competitive business environment make it difficult for IS education programs to satisfy the newly evolving skill requirements of business organizations. Identifying the right skills is very much akin to shooting at a moving target rather than a static one. Thus, a periodical review of up-to-date skills required for IS professionals is a necessary responsibility of IS researchers as a bridge between IS professionals and IS students.

As an effort to understand knowledge and skill requirements with volatile trends in IS, this research collected and analyzed 837 job ads looking for an entry-level IS specialist titled "programmer/analyst" for Fortune 500. To assess how well IS education programs are designed to reflect the real world scenarios, the authors conducted a comparative analysis between the skill requirements found in this research and the topics included in the IS 2002 curriculum model. In this study the authors focus on programmer/analysts because it has been the most frequently occurring job in terms of total number of ads in the IS job market (Gallivan, Truex, and Kvasny, 2004) and it speaks for the trends of combination of business and technical skill requirements in IS job market.

2. PROGRAMER/ANALYST AS AN ENTRY-LEVEL IS SPECIALIST

While the programmer tends to fill programming jobs that have been directed by systems designers, the programmer/analyst as a profession is responsible for analyzing businesses and developing software applications using programming languages. As a result, programmer/analysts with a dual proficiency are thought to be working with systems analysts to design information systems and use programming languages such as C++, Visual Basic, or Java to develop applications with which end-users can access. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2004-2005) mentions that programmer/analysts increasingly work with databases, object-oriented programming languages, and client-server applications development as well as multimedia and Internet technology.

Several empirical studies have proven that the role of programmers has changed. A historical review of the skills required for programmers between 1970 and 1990 revealed that even though requirements of technical skills had been obvious, the importance of behavioral ones had increased (Todd, McKeen, and Gallupe, 1995). …

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