Swim with the global tide

Globalisation - oft maligned and ill understood - is creating a new and evolving international division of labour. Western governments and companies are beginning to adapt to this, and to develop strategies that are in long-term alignment with it.

Globalisation - oft maligned and ill understood - is creating a new and evolving international division of labour. Western governments and companies are beginning to adapt to this, and to develop strategies that are in long-term alignment with it.

In the UK, it has become as difficult for would-be IT professionals to get on the first rungs of the career ladder as it is for first-time buyers to get on the property ladder. For example, from 2005 to 2007, the number of job vacancies advertised for junior contract IT staff fell by nearly 10%, as programming jobs were transferred overseas.

And so a new masters degree, developed in conjunction with employers, is being launched to fill the gap that offshoring has created.

Once those basic trade skills have been acquired, however, globalisation means the emphasis has to shift to business skills, such as supplier relationship management, commercial awareness, and modes of (cross-cultural) team communication.

As we report from Cisco Networkers 2008, network managers are increasingly being called upon to develop advanced - often international - networks that require advanced project management skills.

And there is a need to manage sensitively a Western/Asian cultural divide. In the case of travel company Amadeus, although Japanese and Chinese engineers have proved as clever as their Western counterparts, the travel distribution company has found that they need to be managed very differently.

Globalisation is often seen as a threat to British IT jobs and an insidious destroyer of our technical skills base. But there is no point in wrapping ourselves in the Union Jack. There are opportunities as well as challenges here and there are training courses emerging to help entry level IT professionals overcome skills shortcomings and develop the more sophisticated skills that are with the swim of the global tide.




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