Employers are increasingly using professions programmes to help retain sought-after IT employees, according to a survey of 164 multinational companies by research firm Foote Partners.
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Professions programmes provide a career path by spelling out the skills and knowledge that employees need to acquire before they can move to a new role.
They were first adopted by IT consultants and outsourcing suppliers, such as Capgemini and IBM. Foote Partners said the use of professions programmes had spread because of increased demand for key IT skills, such as application development, over the past 12 months.
Some companies have linked their professions programmes to criteria for promotion. By mapping a clear career path, employers aim to improve staff retention, said research company president David Foote.
"The question is: 'can you get where you want in your company?' If the answer is no, a recruitment consultant will ask 'will you consider moving?' The moment someone says yes, retention is a problem," he said.
The survey found that between 10% and 17% of IT employees joined in-house professions programmes where they were available.
"We have got a bunch of people in IT who are complacent and about 10% who want to differentiate themselves," said Foote.
Employers using professions programmes tend to divide their IT employees into categories according to the skills they need for their jobs. IBM has established four different career streams for its staff and Hewlett Packard 15.
A separate study by Foote Partners revealed that people with application development skills have received average pay rises of 17.6% over the past year. Average pay for all IT employees rose by between 7.9% and 9.9%.
Pay for those with application development skills has increased because more companies are conducting application development in-house, said Foote.