When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

07 December 2005

IT workers: become "versatilists"

Within a few years, having a strong technical ability may not be enough to get you a job.

That's the warning coming from Gartner, Inc., an industry analyst firm. Being a specialist in a specific technology, like Linux, Windows or database administration, isn't going to be enough of a calling card in the not-so-distant job market.

''Let's just say it's no longer going to be a question of just having good technical ability -- of having a specialty,'' says Diane Morello vice president of research at Gartner. ''If you're just maintaining a specialization without raising their caliber, it's not going to be enough... Companies will need people who are broader. The people I'm talking about are 'versatilists'.''

Morello says a new Gartner study shows that the job market for IT specialists will shrink by 40 percent by 2010.
Source: Tech Skills Not Enough for a Job in 2010?

While "versatilists" is truly an ugly coinage, the trends I'm seeing in IT agree with the new Gartner study. If you want to stay employable as a geek, you'd better acquire some business skills along with the technical flavor-of-the-month certifications.

Part of the culprit is outsourcing and offshoring, and part is the increasing automation of IT functions. But the bottom line is that you'd better be bringing a good mix of skills to the table - performing a role that can't be easily documented as a cog in a process and then shipped out to a low-wage country with a surplus of degreed engineers.

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