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With emerging technologies, The ‘10-job’ engineer emerges

Employers want to prepare their employees for a new world of AI and cloud.
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· 3 min read

To misquote Ferris Bueller: Tech moves pretty fast.

One minute, IT pros are studying up for cloud certifications. The next minute, they’re exploring AI and asking chatbots to write haikus.

Emerging technologies, by definition, haven’t arrived yet—and neither have a ton of the experts.

In response to its expeditious nature, companies are showing interest in “upskilling” or improving the skills of their own employees, rather than looking outside the organization for talent. According to end-of-year reports, like the consulting firm Protiviti’s Executive Perspectives on Top Risks for 2023 and 2032 survey, upskilling is in.

“Respondents are telling us how important it is to focus on the upskilling and reskilling of existing employees because the talent they need is not walking the street,” said Jim DeLoach, Protiviti’s managing director at a December panel on corporate risk in New York City.

Training day. Companies have been investing in upskilling strategies for their employees. In July, Mercedes-Benz announced a $1.3 billion investment in training options, including a “Digital Readiness Programme” that offers instruction on technologies like machine learning, internet of things, and blockchain.

Forward-looking employers are offering in-house career opportunities, said Scott Dobrowski, VP of global corporate communications at Indeed.com.

“They’re kind of playing with internal experiments right now, to foster and support and give career opportunities in nontraditional ways to their talent, to help engage them and keep them retained,” Dobrowski told IT Brew.

Amazon’s “Surge2IT” program runs through topics ranging from networks and workstations to Linux command line. AT&T’s “Future Ready” initiative, begun in 2018, partners with universities and online learning platforms like Coursera.

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Working 10 jobs. A Tech Trends 2023 report from the advisory Deloitte noted how companies now seek the “10-job engineer,”—a multiskilled specialist versus, say, a whiz in Python.

And if employers hire for traits like curiosity and attitude, as opposed to COBOL or Java, the talent can be found from within, said Mike Bechtel, chief futurist at Deloitte.

“The typical IT wizard these days—they want to get really deep in something for about two to three to four years. And then, as part of their job description, pull back up, retrain, and become really deep in something else for two, three, four years,” Bechtel told IT Brew.

Not every skill can be upskilled, however; a bank moving all applications to the cloud, for example, requires big teams and big expertise. Companies may need to map out the skills they need, the skills they have, and identify the gaps to be filled—either through training or hiring.

“Existing coders, developers, engineers could be upskilled. But if you want to build some major capability, you gotta either hire from computer science, computer engineering schools, or you have to have some hybrid programs with consulting companies,” said Cenk Ozdemir, cloud and digital lead for consulting at PwC.

But the C-suite is considering upskilling as one of many ways to cut costs and keep talent.

“Upskilling kind of eschews that whole notion of fixed experts and says, ‘We’re humans. We too, can retool and modernize our cores,” said Bechtel.—BH

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Top insights for IT pros

From cybersecurity and big data to software development and gaming, IT Brew delivers the latest news and analysis of trends shaping the IT industry, like only The Brew can.