IT Skills that are becoming obsolete

June 9th, 2015

modern computer units in an office


In today’s busy world, nothing is advancing quite like the rate of technology. With automated vehicles, robots, and more capable artificial intelligence, job security is becoming a talking point in almost every industry around the world. Not surprisingly, the IT sector itself is one of the industries most under threat from automation.

Why certain skills are becoming obsolete

As technology continues to mature, we’re now seeing what happens when people don’t continue to train and expand their skillset. Old skill sets and education that would have been valuable twenty years ago are no longer relevant as more efficient practices come into play. A recent study by Tech Pro Research revealed that 62% of IT and technology workers were concerned about their skills becoming obsolete.

The report also detailed which industries workers felt the most vulnerable in. At the top of the list was education, with 71% of all respondents concerned about their skills becoming obsolete. The IT and technology sector came in second, and business service and consulting industry third with 59% concerned.

What skillsets are becoming obsolete?

The IT skillsets becoming obsolete today were actually some of the most valuable skills to have had ten or twenty years ago. Older programming languages like COBOL that used to support up to 80% of all business applications are now at risk of becoming extinct. Due to a combination of experienced programmers retiring, and the advancement of other language and software packages, COBOL has grown to exist mostly to maintain existing programs that have yet to be rewritten in modern languages.

Other skillsets, like hardware repair and software installation and maintenance, are also growing obsolete due to the rise of cloud computing. Thanks to the growth of high speed internet, gone are the days where software applications came with multiple CD installations. Now, it’s as simple as downloading a software package or outsourcing and using a cloud based solution.

The importance of training, further education, and adaptation

The advancement in technology and automation is forcing workers in many industries to upskill and improve their offerings to stay competitive. By undertaking further education to increase their knowledge base and further their skillsets they increase their capabilities and the value they bring to their sector.

Another way to avoid becoming obsolete is to adapt to the situation and rethink the processes involved with the business. Tom Soderstrom, chief technological officer for NASA, tells a story about an employee who requested an iPad for work use. Soderstrom replied that if the worker in question could create an application that would benefit the business, he would get an iPad. The scientist went away and ended up creating the Lunar Mapping and Modelling Project (LMMP), and made all lunar data public. Through challenging the norm and trying to create value, a new tool and resource was created, therefore boosting the value of both the organisation and the individual.

Referring back to the Tech Pro Research study, over 87% of all correspondents plan on obtaining further education and certification to expand their skill sets, 10% of which plan on gaining a bachelors or masters degree in IT. This dedication to improving their knowledge and skill base is proof that the industry is reacting to the threats that automation and technology pose.

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