The Case for Radically New IT Training
March 28, 2023

Terry Critchley
Author of "Making It in IT"

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This blog presents the case for a radical new approach to basic information technology (IT) education. This conclusion is based on a study of courses and other forms of IT education which purport to cover IT "fundamentals." It is based on my own decades of IT experience and dogma-free research into current IT literature and media.

Information technology training occurs in numerous forms from computer science (CS) courses, as taught in schools and universities, to other eclectic ones and PC-oriented versions of the computing world. I maintain that these courses, especially CS ones, do not stack up to the needs of the fluid, modern IT as practiced in the workplace, especially the enterprise. My reasoning is as follows:

1. There is, and has been for over two decades, an IT skills shortage which is at its peak today (any day).

2. Practically the only source of CS skills are the schools and universities and, of the CS graduates, over half do not stay in the IT job they were hired for. CS is grossly understaffed with females and a survey I created for the CAS (computing at school) group unearthed major reasons for this female reluctance as: too geekish and theoretical, boring and needs great maths skills. Neither is true of the IT world I inhabited and which I observe and write about today.

3. CS and other curricula, many of which I have studied, do not match even the keywords which typify modern IT as practiced in the workplace. This can be shown by comparing any existing curriculum with the attached keyword list which typifies modern IT. This list has been verified as representative of modern IT by four of my peers in IT.

4. Fully 70% of IT projects fail in degrees from not quite what I wanted to total disaster. This failure rate applies to the more specific area of digital transformation and legacy modernization. In short, nearly every IT activity.

As a result, most businesses are reliant on computers (digital) in a range of ways from their being necessary for us to function to mission critical. This reliance is badly hampered by the drawbacks in skills available, as discussed above.

A Solution to This Dilemma

There are a few possible solutions:

1. Do nothing and carry on as usual — the it'll be alright on the night solution

2. Soldier on as usual but get more and more people to study CS and undertake other versions of IT training — the bang your head against the wall solution

3. Devise new IT training, along with an IT apprenticeship, which is apposite the current IT demanded in the workplace; make it accessible by means other than expensive 3- or 4-year university courses; make it easily updated as technology changes; and to widen the demography, age-independent, of new IT training entrants. These needs mandate an online course(s).

Dr. Terry Critchley is an IT consultant and author who previously worked for IBM, Oracle and Sun Microsystems
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