I have been working in the defence industry for more than 15 years, using Ada and occasionally C. I now want to break out of that and am considering doing an MCP C# course. Is there demand for C# professionals or should I perhaps be looking at Java or Visual Basic instead? It is a big decision as these courses do not come cheap.
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As you have identified, it is certainly going to be worth your while in the medium to long term to gain skills in another area.
There is a strong demand for C# because of its association with .net. An organisation using C# can get new products and services to market quicker and at a lower cost. Although there is also a demand for Java and its associated technologies, the demand for .net and C# is growing at a faster rate due to its efficiency of use.
From a recruiter's perspective, you would be well advised to gain some commercial experience as well as completing a course. This will make your new skills more marketable as employers/clients often stipulate that this is essential in any candidate they hire.
However, candidates with defence sector experience are increasingly sought after, so an alternative would be to continue within this field and cross-train into a different skill set while still working. You may have to be more open-minded about the skills you train in, but this could prove to be an excellent way of updating your skill set.
Increasingly, employers are encouraging staff to train, but be aware that many will require a certain amount of commitment in return and may even ask for financial compensation should you leave soon after.
Solution by Jeremy Elwell, manager at Spring Group
The panel: MSB International, Spring Group, E-Skills UK, British Computer Society, Computer Futures, Hudson, Computer People, Elan, Reed Technology, Zarak Technology.
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