Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

An Alumni Assessment of MIS Related Job Skill Importance and Skill Gaps

Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

An Alumni Assessment of MIS Related Job Skill Importance and Skill Gaps

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

The skills required to succeed in the Management Information Systems (MIS) job market are constantly evolving as technology trends change. Periodic reevaluations of skill requirements are essential to ensure that MIS programs are providing graduates with the skills needed to succeed in the work place (Janicki, Kline, Gowan, and Konopaske, 2004; Janicki, Lenox, Logan, and Woratscheck, 2008). This paper presents the results of a skill assessment survey given to graduates of the MIS program of a Northeastern U.S. university who graduated with a B.S. degree between 2000 and 2010. The purpose of the study is to assess which skills are important for success at early career levels within MIS related careers, and what, if any, curriculum adjustments are needed. The study evaluates more skill items (104) than prior MIS job skill studies.

The study provides valuable information on what skills, abilities, techniques, programming languages, and tools are currently required by MIS professionals to succeed in their jobs. The study assesses both technical and 'soft' skills at both a macro and micro level of granularity. The macro level compares the importance of the skill categories used to group the skills in the survey. The micro level assesses skill importance and skill gaps within each category.

Specific objectives of the study include the following:

1. Identify which skills are important for success in early-career MIS positions,

2. Identify gaps that exist between required and actual skill levels,

3. Prioritize skills to be taught in an MIS curriculum.

2. RELATED RESEARCH

Various studies of MIS related skills and skill gaps have been conducted. Surveys have been conducted with current MIS students, MIS alumni, employees (who may or may not be alumni), employers, and educators. Other methods such as analysis of online job ads and focus groups have also been conducted. Table 1 shows the data collection methods used for 36 MIS job skill studies.

Surveys of current students (Golding et al., 2008) are useful in evaluating skill levels of students in an MIS program, but are of limited use in gathering information about skills needed for success in the work place due to the limited industry experience of the participants.

Surveys of alumni are of particular importance in evaluating the curriculum of specific programs because they target those with industry experience who are most representative of the students who will be affected by any curriculum changes. Prior surveys have been conducted on MIS alumni (Davis and Woodward, 2006; Koppi et al., 2009; Plice and Reinig, 2007; Sumner and Yager, 2008; Van Auken et al., 2011).

Plice and Reinig (2007) conducted an alumni survey with the primary focus of determining whether the balance between business and technical content should be adjusted in an MIS program. They determined that their graduates tended to move into jobs requiring more managerial responsibilities over time, and that managerial skills and knowledge should receive greater emphasis than technical skills. This is consistent with the findings of other studies (Davis and Woodward, 2006; Golding et al., 2008; McMurtrey et al., 2008; Merhout et al., 2009; Noll and Wilkins, 2002).

Sumner and Yager (2008) also concluded that soft skills are more important to graduates of an MIS program than technical skills, but that a balanced curriculum that also prepares graduates in essential technical skills is needed. They concluded that knowledge and skills in emerging application development environments and web programming are particularly important technical skills for MIS graduates.

Fang, Lee, and Koh (2005) note that prior studies on IS related job skills have used various classifications of IS job skills, making comparisons of job skill studies difficult. They build on prior work (Lee et al., 1995; Todd et al. …

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