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Employers value business skills as much as tech certifications

Posted by Rubel Khan on December 4, 2011

For IT Pros, Business Savvy Trumps Certifications: Foote

DATE: 2011-12-01 | By Ericka Chickowski

Having certifications may have led to higher salaries for IT professionals in the past, but the latest report from Foote Partners finds that business skills may be just as valuable.

IT skill certifications don’t hold the same value as they did during rosier economic times, according to the latest report from IT employment and consulting firm Foote Partners. 

Global instability and a lack of confidence in the U.S. economy are leading to a flattening of salaries between workers who have IT certifications and those who bring noncertified skills to the table.

In its IT Skills and Certification Pay Index report for the third quarter, released Nov. 29, the firm finds that 13% of noncertified skills got an increase in pay premiums over the last year while the same was true for only 5% of certified skill sets.

While in the past, simply having a string of accreditations displayed on a business card might be enough to bump up salaries, the current business environment asks for more, says David Foote, co-founder of Foote Partners.

“Private corporations may be holding on tightly to something like $2.5 million in liquid assets, but they have definitely been spending on skills and people during the recovery, albeit heavily in the services industry and in selective internal hires, The drivers for skills and talent acquisition in evidence today are more unique and compelling than prior downturns and won’t easily crumble under pressure,” Foote says.   

Most companies, he says, are hiring for vacant positions or looking internally for candidates. This kind of pressure forces companies to look less at specialists and more at what Foote Partners calls a “hybrid IT business professional.” Instead of candidates with specific certified skills, hiring managers are seeking candidates not only with a strong IT background, but also skills in business, sales and even marketing.

According to Foote, fewer than 20 percent of all IT professionals today now work within the walls of what could be considered the traditional IT department. And IT workers who are entrenched in the workings of other business units will need a diverse set of skills to continue to grow.

“They have not been valuing certified skills as much as they have those that are without certification, where the experience and on-the-job performance of a person accounts for more ‘juice’ in hiring and skills acquisition decisions than having an acronym on one’s business card,” Foote says.


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