Third platform IT job skills in demand

Mike Anderson, Editorial Assistant

Many organizations seek IT pros skilled in mobility, social, "big data" and cloud, collectively known as the third platform, but people with deep knowledge of emerging technologies are hard to find.

Globally, one-third of employers say it's hard to find IT talent, said Cushing Anderson, program vice president for project-based services at IDC in Framingham, Mass., during the firm's recent webinar, IT Staffing for the Third Platform: Challenges and Opportunities.

"Third-platform opportunities represent all the IT job growth going forward," he said. "This is what IT managers hire for. This is what every IT graduate is moving into."

Dice.com, a recruiting and career development website for technology and engineering professionals in the United States, sees a growing demand for third platform-related jobs. Overall, job postings on Dice are flat, but jobs focusing on new technologies are up, said Rachel Ceccarelli, a spokesperson for Dice Holdings Inc. based in New York. 

Third-platform opportunities represent all the IT job growth going forward.

Cushing Anderson, IDC Corp.

Big data jobs are up 143% from July 1, 2012 to July 2, 2013 and Apache Hadoop jobs, one of the key skillsets within big data, are up 85% in that same period, she added. These are the two fastest growing skills on Dice.

People who understand how to build, implement and manage Hadoop, an open-source software framework that provides big data, are very rare, however, said Marianne Kolding, vice president of European services for IDC, who also presented during the webinar.

In addition, cloud-related job postings are up 32% in the same period.

Indeed, a new level of IT skills are needed for building or optimizing cloud environments, Kolding said, though it is too early in the cloud era to determine its impact on the IT job market.

With public and private cloud comes automation, which requires fewer technical skills and resources.  However, IT organizations will need IT workers with the skills to design, build and optimize clouds.

"Generally, the amount of resources for private cloud far exceeds the skills for public cloud," Kolding said.  "We estimate that about 85% of professional services of spending in user organizations on cloud is used on private cloud and companies would need the skills to migrate systems over to cloud."

It's difficult to say whether cloud will increase or decrease jobs, Kolding said. "Over time, we'll see demand for more traditional technologies and operational support declining."

Companies are also evaluating enterprise social networks and need IT pros that are familiar with social platforms.  With the mobility trend there's a growing need for IT pros with mobile application and development skills.

Mobile IT jobs for the iPhone increased 10% from July 2012 to July 2013 and from July 2011 to July 2012, iPhone jobs almost doubled, according to Dice.com. Android jobs also saw a 10% increase from July 2012 to July 2013. From July 2011 to July 2012, Android jobs increased from 1,417 to 2,131.

Mobile application jobs increased slightly at 5% from July 2012 to July 2013. Those increased a bit more from 1,075 to 1,507 during the period of July 2011 to July 2012.

IT certifications for the third platform

Whether formal certifications for emerging technologies matter to employers or not depends on the company.

"[They] don't have to be certified, but have to know what they're doing," said Scot Melland, CEO of Dice Holdings Inc. based in New York City. "They must be willing to learn as the technology is rapidly changing."

A February 2012 Dice Report found that not all certifications are created equal.

"It's up to the tech professional to decide if it's worth the investment," Ceccarelli said. "But, for contractors, certifications carry more weight, specifically because they add merit or help them gain another project with a new company."

Forty-percent of tech consultants said obtaining a certification helped them land a new gig, which is about 10% higher than their colleagues working in traditional roles, she said quoting the report.

Certifications can be helpful though in two respects, said Melland. One is if someone's a tech professional who's trying to update his or her skillset. Another is if someone works for a company whose getting into a new technology and he or she wants to show that they have the skills.

"If you demonstrate you've worked and applied those skills than that's the most valuable asset for an employee," Melland said.

Learning third platform technologies isn't hard and can be pretty cost-effective too, said Melland.

"If you live in a major tech center such as the Boston or Seattle areas, it's likely that a community college might have programs on these big technologies," Melland added.

View the next item in this Essential Guide: Data center certification options vs. less calculable IT skills or view the full guide: Need-to-know IT job requirements

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