A new survey of 3,578 IT managers suggests that wireless and radio frequency (RF) mobile technology proficiency will grow in importance over the coming five years to become the number one most valuable IT skill.
The survey was commissioned by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) and conducted late last year by market research firm, The Center for Strategy Research.
To qualify as an "IT Manager", respondents, who participated in the survey via phone or online, had to have hired and/or managed at least three IT employees for companies with staffs of 10 or more. And the survey base was composed of at least 250 IT managers from each of the following 14 countries: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Poland, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Currently, the three leading IT skills are security (74 percent of respondents ranked the skill "six" or "seven" on a scale of one to seven), general networking (66 percent), and operating systems (66 percent), according to the survey. But mobile and wireless skills are expected to grow most in importance over the coming five years to become the number one most valued skill set, the survey found. (In all but two of the respondents' countries - South Africa and France - IT managers said wireless skills will increase the most to 2013.)
Though the survey didn't drill down into the specifics of what was meant by "wireless and RF frequency technology" skills, CompTIA Spokesman Steven Ostrowski said the phrase encompasses all the ways companies are using wireless, like smartphones and handhelds and related support, Wi-Fi networking and RFID implementations.
Those most likely to predict that wireless will be the most important skill in five years were IT managers in the healthcare industry (63 percent), followed by IT managers in the education space (63 percent). Auto/manufacturing-sector IT managers were less likely to predict such strong growth in the importance of such skills.
Additional skills expected to grow in importance over the coming five years include web-based technologies, like Web 2.0, SOA, SaaS and AJAX, as well as Java and non-Microsoft programming languages, according to the survey.
More findings include:
- Survey participants say the top two things IT departments should be doing to grow tech staffers' skills are sending them to external, professional training classes (42 percent) and offering rewards for workers who enhance their skill sets (41 percent)
- Forty-six percent of IT managers are currently increasing their staffs or have done so recently; 52 percent plan to hire more IT staffers in a year; and 64 percent say they'll increase their numbers of IT staffers in five years
- The most likely positions to open up over the next five years are programming/coding/developing jobs, while quality assurance posts are least likely to become available
- The top factors motivating change in the IT industry are technological variation (52 percent), budget constraints (51 percent), security and compliance (48 percent), and consumer needs (47 percent)
More information on the survey is available on CompTIA's website.