Exec calls for gaps to close between IT studies, industry needs

Monday, July 25, 2011

Significant gaps between the professional skills required by IT companies and the core curriculums offered by universities need to be addressed, Chilean IT consultancy Segacy's innovation director, Miroslav Pavlovic, told BNamericas.

In some cases, students have to learn unnecessary subjects, and in others the scope of the coursework is insufficient, he said, basing his observations on findings from the firm's research on two Chilean universities that offer undergraduate and graduate IT courses.

"For example, in one of the studies, we discovered that there was no formal instruction for the application tester role, so we can say that in this area there was a lot missing" from the university curriculum, Pavlovic said. On the other hand, "we also discovered that in the core curriculum for software design, there were too many hours dedicated to infrastructure, like servers and networks. These abilities are useful if you need to administrate infrastructure, but don't have much to do with software design."

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The study reviewed 500 job descriptions advertised in more than 15 online portals and newspapers during four months, focusing on six IT roles that represent the structure of an IT department, according to the executive: IT managers and department managers, project managers, architects, analysts, developers and testers.

A disconnect exists between enterprises and universities in terms of skills, and in this subject "Chile is not an exception," he said.

"It's a fact that IT companies think universities aren't preparing professionals with the profiles that they need, so it's the company's responsibility to create the professionals with the skills they need," Pavlovic added.

According to Pavlovic, the current model has companies hiring graduates to train them according to their needs, which can lead to problems in terms of adapting when that graduate moves to another job in another company.

"If we can manage to get universities to produce the core abilities that the IT industry needs, the training cycle for graduates in a company will be reduced, and the training can focus on how to work in the company, which reduces the time for adapting," Pavlovic added.

The study could help to create new core curriculums according to industry needs and save up to hundreds of hours of university programs. The study was designed using the British human resources for IT model, called the skills framework for the information age (SFIA), adapted to Chile.

The two universities involved, which Pavlovic could not name, will start applying the changes to their core curriculum from 2012, he said.

Segacy's idea is to present the study to Chile's education ministry. "But after the government's recent re-shuffle of ministers, we will have to wait a little bit more," Pavlovic said.

Last week, President Sebastián Piñera reassigned then-education minister Joaquín Lavín as planning minister. In his place came then-justice minister Felipe Bulnes. The move was seen as a response to mass student protests in Chile that have been taking place for two months.