Which drivers of change will affect their skills?
Given the wide range of industries that ICT technicians can be employed in, they need to combine technical skills with sector-relevant skills as well as understanding of objectives and challenges of that particular sector. Subsequently, sector-specific skills are influenced by factors not necessarily related to IT.
ICT technicians may differ according to the sector they work for. Despite these dissimilarities, common drivers of change can be identified in relation to development of new business models and processes both in IT and its user sectors. These drivers are foreseen to affect the demand for and skills of ICT technicians:
Mobile internet technologies and adoption of business models of ICT provision such as software-as-a-service, web-based services and downloadable applications will generally decrease demand for customer serviceiv
. As the provision of these services is centralised and applied remotely, on-site technical support becomes less pertinent, but not obsolete: mobility (of employees, consumers, devices and applications) asks for the support and smooth interference of different software versions, operating systems and security arrangementsv
which can be safeguarded by an ICT technician.
Increased user friendliness of web applications/ management systems and software empowers non-expert users to function autonomously, while the level of user ICT skills also rises. Although “traditional” customer support may change in nature as a consequence, the increased share of older employees and customers with less advanced e-skills calls for ICT technical support.
Explosive increase in the development of overall technological, online and mobile activities (for example, e-sales) asks for ICT technicians’ support of Internet, networks and relevant infrastructure.
With the growing utilisation of mobile and web-based solutions, the ability to manage more complex partner and supplier relationships becomes more important. Technicians may be less needed for their technical skills but as they will become more client-facing, they will be exposed to a growing need for business and interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate technical as well as non-technical information verbally and in writingvi
Automation and digitalisation infiltrates all sectors, even non-ICT intensive ones (such as health, education, accommodation and catering), creating further demand for ICT maintenance and support services.
The need for stronger cyber security is also impacting on technicians’ skillsvii
. There is a need to continuously update and improve security skills related to the entire range of products and services that information and communications technicians deal with, from adjusting software that delivers tighter security to technical support to ensure the on-going protection of systems. This requires skills to develop integrated security solutions and manage risk, based on a solid understanding of the vulnerabilities of underlying ICT system architectureviii
System integration - the process of linking together different computing systems and applications to act as a coordinated one- is still a major ICT trend. The demand for ICT technical skills to manage complex IT environments and systems can therefore be expected to increase.
Technological advancements such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things and advances in computer power and Big Data are expected to substantially alter the way the economy and society function. ICT technicians can be expected to have a role in supporting the well-functioning of the advanced computer systems and networks.
“As perhaps the biggest disruptive technology trend in recent times, cloud computing is steadily permeating throughout businesses across the world. As IT infrastructure and operations are moved to off-site hosted locations, there will be inevitable reverberations in the job market. It means that new and updated skillsets will be required, while others will have to adapt and be redeployed. As the uptake of Infrastructure-as-a-Service increases, in-house infrastructure related jobs such as system administrators or operators may find that their primary tasks will be moved to the cloud. This means that fewer traditional data centre managers will be needed internally as IT becomes hosted offsite by someone else.”
Risk of Automation: As a part of its Digitalisation and future of work project
, Cedefop estimates the risks of automation
for occupations. The most exposed occupations are those with significant share of tasks that can be automated – operation of specialised technical equipment, routine or non-autonomous tasks – and those with a small reliance on communication, collaboration, critical thinking and customer-serving skills. The risk of automation is further accentuated in occupations where employees report little access to professional training that could help them to cope with labour market changes. ICT technicians are reportedly an occupation with very low risk of automation.