2012: The outlook for IT professionals

2011 was about job security. 2012 will be about skills, and flexibility.

London's concentration of new technology businesses also represents another opportunity for IT professionals. Although London is by no means the only part of the country fostering start-ups, Silicon Roundabout has attracted both media and Government attention. And there is certainly work in the area for IT professionals with an entrepreneurial bend, and those who are willing to work for, or with, start-ups.

But technical skills, including wizardry with iOS or Android, or the ability to pull data from Twitter's APIs, are not the only requirements for IT professionals.

IT contracting could see a boost, too, in 2012. Businesses may be unwilling to take on permanent IT staff, and cover all their overheads, when the financial outlook is unclear. But they are set to use more consultants, freelancers and small IT companies to fill in the gaps and to develop technologies and applications that can save money, or bring in business on a project basis.

The Government has already come under pressure for its over-reliance on a small number of large IT suppliers, and may make more use of smaller suppliers in 2012. This, combined with the commercial sector's demand for flexible IT work, is set to boost demand for contractors, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation's (REC) technology sector group.

But technical skills, including wizardry with iOS or Android, or the ability to pull data from Twitter's APIs, are not the only requirements for IT professionals.

REC reports that employers are putting an increasing emphasis on project management skills; employers are also looking for IT professionals with a strong level of business understanding, and who are good communicators. For some posts and increasingly this is the case for internal IT teams this is more important than software development or programming skills, as more of that work is being done by the large IT consultants, or carried out offshore.

The need to acquire and hone "soft" skills such as communications is being driven by the changing nature of IT work, especially within large companies and government departments.

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