Take a look at the ideal tech employee of the future

Take a look at the ideal tech employee of the future

Coding skills are hot. They have been for years. And this is unlikely to change any time soon. In fact, it’s going to get worse — because digital and technology skills are impacting job roles from front of house to the back office and everywhere in-between.

Governments at all levels have been crying out about a skills shortage for sometime — but have gone quiet over the last few years. Recent Skills Shortage Reports went so far as to claim that when it comes to IT, there is plenty of supply — with employers finding it easy to find workers. The report explained that for every job advertised, there were almost 50 applications. On the surface, that seems like a problem of oversupply.

A new view of ICT

But CEO, Matt Barrie, suggests that the way that we think about IT, ICT and technology related jobs needs to be refreshed. In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, Barrie teases out the distinctions: ‘What they’re talking about are technician level jobs, literally IT tech support roles. They’re not talking about software engineering or the real jobs that you need in a modern technology company.’

Part of what Barrie is discussing is the shift in technology and programming over the last 20-30 years. The very fact that the government talks about “ICT” — information communications technology skills — shows how out-of-touch they are with the practicalities of today’s coders.

Sure, there is still a need for analyst/programmers and software engineers — but there’s a much more pressing need for multidisciplinary skills, ability to collaborate, and a sense of entrepreneurialism. Barrie suggests that universities also need a jolt — “many of the courses [don’t] … produce graduates with the right skills needed in a modern technology company”.

The challenge, of course, is that change has been rapid. The skills that are needed by today’s technology companies have only emerged in the last 20 years. For example, the Ruby programming language was only invented in the 1990s and has been adopted by startups the world over in the last decade.

There has been a similar explosion in demand for parallel disciplines like user experience and design, product management, back end programming, mobile app development, and more. Ideo chief, Tim Brown, used to explain that for his innovation focused teams, he needed T-shaped people — a collaborative capability backed up by a deep, focused skill-set underneath.

T-Shaped People

The future is M-Shaped

The employees of the future, however, won’t just be T-shaped. They’ll need more arrows for their bow. They’ll need to be M shaped.

M-shaped People

The M-shaped employee balances their professional, personal, and social selves all of which are connected through a willingness and openness to collaborate.

Getting from T to M

Is this M-shaped employee really an über connected, 21st Century Renaissance man/woman ready to take on the world at a moment’s notice? The truth is that even surface skills across a range of areas take time to develop. And to expect M-shaped employees to emerge from our university sector fully-formed is naive.

M-shaped employees will grow that way over time. As the casualisation of the workforce continues and more and more of us turn to the so-called gig economy, we will necessarily become M-shaped. We’ll need those social skills to create networks and promote ourselves. We’ll need technology and business skills to run our small-business-of-one, and we’ll also need the personal integrity and sense of connectedness to anchor us in this changing world.

My guess is, that if you’ve read this far, you’re already on your way to being M-shaped. And in many ways, that means the future is already here. At least for some of us.

More reading:

The future of work: what will work look like in 2025?
Why employees are the key to your digital transformation
The future of specialist social media roles


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Award-winning Australian recruitment agency, Firebrand Talent, ignites the careers of digital, marketing, creative, communications, advertising, & media talent. If you are looking for your next career move, check out the jobs we currently have on in Sydney & Melbourne.


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