There is an article on the BBC News website about how IT skills are valued in the boardroom. A study by Microsoft shows that IT skills were seen as the seventh most important skill, behind skills such as team working, interpersonal skills and initiative. Bill Gates challenges this, claiming that IT skills were needed from the shop floor to the Chief Executive.
I have a feeling that this may be a case of Gates and UK Boardroom using the same words but meaning different things by them. Some IT skills have become so common that they are not really seen as IT skills. When being asked the question, did the UK boardrooms surveyed consider the ability to use email and a word processor as an IT skill? Would the board consider employing individuals who could not these basic tools – and worse refused to because it was IT and they didn’t understand it? Only recently I was debating with a group of friends what “being in IT” means. Does it mean you are in the IT department? Does it mean you are a programmer? Does it mean you can code HTML and write a website? Or update a blog? Or use a computer in your job?
Skills listed as important ahead of IT were those such as teamworking, analysis, planning and flexibility. The IT can be core to succeeding in all of these – try analysing and planning without a spreadsheet or project management tool, try teamworking without staying in touch via email and try being flexible without the technology to work from home.
In the end, IT skills will never be valuable in their own right, however they will be essential to achieve all the skills that deliver true value to a business, and therefore to an employee.