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From I-Shaped to T-Shaped: Changes in Professional Capabilities in the IT Industry

From I Shaped To T Shaped Feat

​The IT industry has displayed an increased vigour since the turn of the century. The world has seen radical changes, with technology touching just about everything in everyday life. For the last two decades, there have been some outstanding advancements taking place, including the evolution of devices to be more portable, accessible and personal. Social media, cloud computing and artificial intelligence, tablets, smartwatches, fitness trackers, wireless earphones, electric cars and much more – we now live in a truly Sci-Fi world!

This explosion in technological advancements has resulted in unique, multi-layered and hybrid career options across a range of industries. Couple that with the pandemic, and we are now seeing a shift in role types, salary expectations and skills availability.

A Growing Breadth of Expertise

Last year, we braced for the impacts of a raging pandemic, which led to radical changes in the way we work. The new normal now includes less travelling, more remote and flexible working, work/life balance, increased collaboration and, more importantly, the emergence of hybrid/evolved roles.

I have had conversations with contractors and candidates alike about how they are now focused on growing their capabilities and skills, with many embracing skills upgrade programs from providers such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy to broaden their skills. Consequently, there has been a shift from “I-Shaped” expertise (a good depth of skill and knowledge limited to a single discipline) to “T-shaped” expertise (a good depth of skill and knowledge in one discipline, along with a reasonable breadth of skill knowledge across other disciplines).

For example, where we had Backend Developers specialising only in integrations and core product development, we now have professionals with skills across the stack and cloud (proficiently). When asked the reason for this shift, one candidate noted that time spared from travelling, for instance, has been invested in creative personal projects and self-learning. Another professional pointed out that through the massive restructures observed last year, they utilised their time between roles to upgrade their capabilities.

Making the Most of Available Skills

Overall, there has been an exponential growth in capabilities observed in professionals across specialisations. As a result, employers seeking talent are utilising this by introducing hybrid opportunities. Testers who can develop, Developers who can work with infrastructure, hands-on leaders, Support Engineers who can develop and configure are just some of the many shifts in new requirements observed over the last year.

With border restrictions and the shortage of talent coming into the country, professionals are also making the most of their capabilities by engaging in challenging and rewarding roles. Where an interview was once a one-way discussion with employers taking the lead, we now are observing a two-way conversation where potential employees are investigating if the position in question offers a complete utilisation of their capabilities.

I feel this is only just the beginning. For employers, providing plenty of scope and opportunities for advancement will be important to attract the talent they need, and for those professionals who have yet to upskill, the time is now!

If you’d like further insights into how capabilities are changing in the IT sector or if you need hiring or job search, feel free to reach out to me today.

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