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Preparing The Information Technology Professionals Of Tomorrow: What Information Technology Programs Can Do To Ensure Their Graduates Are Employable

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Curriculum in Telecommunications Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.976.1 - 15.976.17



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Paper Authors

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Kim Nankivell Purdue University, Calumet

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Joy Colwell Purdue University, Calumet

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Jana Whittington Purdue University, Calumet

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Preparing the Information Technology Professionals of Tomorrow: What Information Technology Programs Can Do to Ensure Their Graduates Are Employable


It is well understood that technical graduates need more than technical skills to be professionally employed; they also need the so-called “soft skills” to be effective. Rapid change in Information Systems (IS) and Information Technologies (IT) has placed enormous demands on the IS/IT professional. These demands create skill gaps which must be addressed by working professionals and by new graduates entering the work world. This paper will examine the present understanding (based on a literature review) of the skills required for a successful IT/IS professional, including the various definitions of IS/IT skills, along with those soft skills required for the IS/IT professional to be effective. Finally, the authors will identify the various methods used by organizations and the IT professional to enhance these skills both formally and informally, and make some recommendations for how IS/IT programs can incorporate these training methods to help make their graduates more successful in the workplace.


The understanding of the skill levels that are required to analyze and implement information systems/information technology (IS/IT) strategies are critical for an organization to be successful. These skill sets have evolved as the requirements and responsibilities of IS/IT professionals have expanded. “The profession of ISD is characterized by specialized technical training and circumstanced theorizing. … Unfortunately, a technologist’s perspective does not encourage an accurate diagnosis of the role of computing in business strategy and operations”.1These technical skills must be supplemented to better implement the new IS/IT strategies called for in the fast paced and competitive environment within which these organizations must operate. It has also been noted that “Experience, in addition to knowledge and skills of personnel, is a distinctive competence that helps companies obtain competitive advantage”.2

The research also recognizes the need for the re-tooling of the IT professional. Barry Boehm observes “COTS [commercial-off-the-shelf] components are also requiring reprioritizing the skills needed by software engineers”.3 Along with the retooling of the IT professional in IT skills there is also a significant void in financial working knowledge that the IT staff is now being required to comprehend.4 The need for these skills and competencies is recognized in such a manner that “If there are some competencies an organization needs but does not have, it must either develop a cost effective plan to obtain them”.5 This re-tooling is across the spectrum of skills which creates a challenge for the IT professional in what skills to focus in on and to what degree to enhance them.

The definitions of these new skills and knowledge are nebulous at best. These skills have been recognized as issues even in the board room “what's going wrong is that CIOs still lack business credibility and understanding”.6 The perceptions of these required skills vary from the user and

Nankivell, K., & Colwell, J., & Whittington, J. (2010, June), Preparing The Information Technology Professionals Of Tomorrow: What Information Technology Programs Can Do To Ensure Their Graduates Are Employable Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16023

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