Your IT Career in Open Source

"Open source is where it’s at"  Scott Merrill, Techcrunch

"Big business is calling – and they want to talk about Linux....Linux is evolving now that the cloud is here and much of it is built on open source. Big business gets that and they want to get on the train."   Alex Williams, Tech Crunch

The LinuxCon North America event at the end of August had a number of people at LPI and in the media "buzzing" with enthusiasm (a nice summary of media coverage can be found here)

At LPI this had some colleagues revisiting some seminal reports from the Linux Foundation earlier this year: "Linux Adoption Trends 2012: A Survey of Enterprise End Users" and "2012 Linux Jobs Report".

Both of these studies were basically "good news" for advocates of Linux and Open Source Software--particularly in terms of career and job prospects.  However, around the same time period there was a number of other studies published that were "good news" overall for those in the IT field -- particularly for those who recognize the value of certification.

LPI had blog posts on two of these studies: "Global Knowledge: 2012 IT Skills and Salary Report" and the "2012 Future of Open Source Survey".

However, equally relevant for those pursuing IT careers was a global survey published by the Manpower Group: "2012 Talent Shortage Survey" .

The "2012 Talent Shortage Survey" echoes much of the Manpower Group's "megatrends" identified in their 2010 "Winning in the World of Work" . In summary these global "megatrends" include increasing skills shortages in key sectors (e.g. IT), the need for lifelong learning and individual responsibility for career development, challenges for management around workforce development and talent retention, and greater demand from customers for transparency, trusted information sources, and demonstrated skills credentials (i.e. certification).

The 2012 Talent Shortage Survey certainly lives up to its name in that over a third of employers surveyed around the world could not find the talent they needed and recognized that competition would increase for "proven, talented employees with skills employers need".  The study recommended that individuals invest in their own career development but also cautioned that employers who did not invest in their employees' talent development were shortsighted and would soon lose competitive advantage to employers who did make such workforce investments.

As an example the survey noted that in 2011 only 24% of employers named the "lack of available applicants/no applicants” as the most common reason for difficulty filling jobs. A year later that jumped to 33%.  Similarly, in 2011 22% of survey respondents stated that the difficulty filling jobs was due to “lack of technical competencies/hard skills”—in particular the lack of industry-specific qualifications in both professional and skilled trades categories. This finding rose to 33% in 2012.

Most notable was that in the last year IT staff roles are becoming an increasing challenge to fill.  This type of employee now ranks fifth in terms of employer challenges in finding the right skill sets, up from eighth in 2011.  In particular, the study noted the growing challenge to find employees for Cloud computing sector.

The study had some interesting regional insights.  For example, an overall lack of IT talent within the Americas region was highest in the U.S. (55%), while such nations as New Zealand (50%) and Taiwan (46%) had a similar challenge in APAC, and Austria (67%) and Switzerland (62%) in EMEA.

This skills shortage in IT was reported as having a high impact on businesses in these regions.  Again, this just wasn't an issue of overall availability but also represented the challenge to find qualified employees with professional certifications and accreditation.

As a result of these skills shortages, employers are providing further training to existing team members, recruiting offshore, and increasing salaries and benefits for new "hires".  However, those that are experiencing the greatest challenges in securing talent are investing more in developing talent in-house through training and employee retention programs rather than focusing on external recruitment.

The survey is worth reviewing for those interested in IT skills shortages on a regional and even national basis.  More importantly, it clearly indicates that IT professionals who have the "right" certification will be in much demand in the future.  

Given the growth of Linux and Open Source, this study confirms that your LPI certification will be a "must-have" towards a promising and rewarding future IT career.