Your job may never be the same again

The launch of Windows 2000 is just the start for IT departments. As structures are redrawn, training and skills audits will be...

The launch of Windows 2000 is just the start for IT departments. As structures are redrawn, training and skills audits will be essential.

Bill Goodwin

The roll-out of Windows 2000 could create a new generation of specialised IT jobs which will transform the way IT departments are organised and managed.

IT departments will be filled with a greater number of development and administration staff, each specialising in a different aspect of the new operating system, say IT skills experts.

New jobs are likely to emerge in encryption, security and systems administration, as IT departments gear up to exploit the capabilities of the operating system, which dwarfs Windows NT in its capability and complexity.

In the longer term, IT departments are likely to see demand for skilled development staff grow. Meanwhile, Windows 2000's greater stability will mean that the need for skilled support staff diminishes, experts predict.

Dave Race, director of ICL's Windows 2000 programme, which aims to train 2,000 IT staff in the operating system by 2001, said, "What we will see is more sharply delineated granularity across IT departments."

New positions will emerge for IT staff with in-depth expertise in encryption, security, planning and administration, opening up new high-level roles for IT staff, IT training specialists predict.

Patrick Coats, business development manager at Spring IT, said, "The more advanced IT professionals will have the opportunity to press to higher levels in a more consultative role in IT. This raises the profile of IT which must be a good thing."

The systems administrator's job is likely to be split into a number of smaller jobs within large organisations.

Jasbir Singh Athwal, Windows 2000 trainer at Learning Tree International, said, "Companies are likely to want a systems administrator to look after a limited range of functions within sales, marketing, production and other departments,"

"With NT, you have an administrator who is the god of everything. He does everything from TCP/IP to encryption. But with Windows 2000 you are going to get smaller jobs. People are not going to know everything about everything," Athwal said.

Microsoft is urging IT departments to carry out skills audits of their staff to enable them to identify what aspects of Windows 2000 training each person needs, rather than to attempt to train everyone in everything.

"It's about looking what role staff are falling into - and not falling into the trap that everyone needs the full training, as they did with NT4," said Clare Curtis, head of training at Microsoft UK.

The cost of training in Windows 2000

For most IT departments, the cost of training staff up in Windows 2000 skills should be no greater than Windows NT. Although Windows 2000 is more complex than NT there is no need for IT staff to be trained in every aspect of Windows 2000.

Typically, employers should set aside 15%-20% of salary costs for Windows 2000 training. But they will also need to consider the opportunity costs of freeing up time for their staff to attend courses.

A company with an IT department of 25 could need to pencil in as many as 750 man-days of training. A small company with an IT staff of three could be looking at 90 man days. It is worth considering a combination of classroom training and self-study programmes if it is critical to keep staff at their desks.

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