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Career planning for IT professionals becoming increasingly difficult

Career planning for IT professionals becoming increasingly difficult

In June of 2011, Elan commissioned a survey of 500 UK IT professionals to explore issues of complexity in career planning.

The research revealed that career planning for IT professionals is becoming increasingly difficult – 54% of those surveyed believe that “it's impossible to really plan a career in IT - the industry changes too quickly for that,” and 57% see most IT workers as planning their career in short stints, focusing purely on their next role rather than their overall goal.

The overall picture is a sense that more and more knowledge is being required of IT workers. Those who recruit, manage and develop the IT workforce must be sensitive to these issues. The ongoing challenge for managers will be providing support for their IT staff to develop the skills they need to progress, whether they want to stay in technical roles or move into more managerial positions.

Geoff Smith, MD Elan Solutions, comments, “Employees feel under pressure from the fast pace of change at work. An employee’s decision on whether to proceed with a new role or stay in an existing role with an employer is increasingly based on what the employer can do for them.  Those employers who make it clear, both during the hiring process and afterwards, that they provide resources to help their IT workers to update their skills and learn new skills on the job, will have a definite edge in hiring and maintaining a motivated and capable workforce.”

One surprising finding of the research was that over half of those surveyed have been in the same role for more than five years. In fact, almost 30% of respondents said they had been in that role for over ten years. There appears to be a distinct split in the market, with "stickers," who remain faithfully with employers for a long time, matched almost equally by "twisters," who stay in roles for five years or less.

Even in an increasingly transient workplace - especially in knowledge worker sectors – there are still many people who are in it for the long term and who consider job security to be a significant factor. Conversely, it is telling that five years in a job is considered long term in today’s market.  Geoff Smith concludes, “This presents a real challenge for the people management side of any business.  With two distinct tiers appearing between "stickers" and "twisters," knowing which of these dynamics is most at play in your workplace and how best to tackle it is increasingly important.”

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