Survey finds IT-type is flawed

UK industry could be recruiting candidates with the wrong personality type to be a success in IT.

UK industry could be recruiting candidates with the wrong personality type to be a success in IT.

A groundbreaking report published earlier this week shows that IT professionals as a group have the wrong personality and behavioural mix to finish business projects on time and to budget.

Until the ratio becomes more balanced, the IT department will struggle to align itself with successful business practices.

The Scale 21 survey was set up to identify the underlying skills that have made members of the IT profession successful. It is backed by the Department of Trade & Industry Foresight Programme, E-Skills National Training Organisation, Computer Weekly and the Real Time Club.

The findings, unveiled at the Building Britain's Brainpower conference, show that the IT professional community has fewer leaders and half the "finishers" compared with the general business community, but has twice the enthusiasts.

This could help explain why IT professionals are good at starting projects and full of enthusiasm, but get lost along the way without strong leaders and enough finishers. "It means that the IT industry has too many bleaty, skittish sheep and too few conscientious sheepdogs," said Philip Virgo, strategic adviser to the IT directors group IMIS.

UK IT professionals also have weaknesses in their "life skills" and "capability profiles" which put them at a disadvantage internationally. Comparing life skills with those of a representative sample from Canada, British IT professionals are much more resourceful, confident, and goal oriented and are as adaptable. However they fall down badly on perfectionism where they scored 20% lower than their Canadian peers.

In the capabilities section - looking at analogies, arithmetic, classes, patterns and logic - nearly all the results compared poorly with the Canadians and were significantly lower (15%) for pattern recognition.

Speaking at the conference Douglas Alexander, minister for e-commerce and competitiveness, said, "Interesting research is not enough in itself. It is important that we all look at the results and consider how they impact on our own work. Scale 21 will provide valuable input into the skills framework for the information age."

In total 1,800 people completed more than 3,000 tests and assessments.

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