Picking the Right Job in the Age of Outsourcing
This newsletter has committed quite a bit of space recently to the outsourcing trend in IT employment, which has been the bane of more than a few techies’ existences. We also try to keep our readers ahead of the curve, though, by updating them on the jobs, skills and certifications that will keep them afloat in these choppy waters. This month, we spoke with Stefano Stefan, the assistant director of business, management, legal and IT programs at the University of California-Irvine Extension, about what he thinks will stay in-country and what’s going to be sent overseas.
“The one trend that seems to be emerging is that anything that’s fairly repeatable—something that you can give someone instructions to do—is likely to be outsourced,” he said. “Something that’s more connected with business purposes and requires close contact with management is more likely to stay over here.”
According to Stefano, vocations that require “big-picture,” creative thinking will remain in the United States and will continue to fuel domestic job creation in IT, even as entry-level positions are sent to the other side of the world. He added that two particular roles, systems analyst and business analyst, were going to be especially essential, because they link users to information in organizations.
Business analysts educe the needs of application end-users, and analyze business processes, Stefano said. Their comprehension of the latest IT solutions helps them work with company leaders to figure how IT can meet their needs, and serve as a conduit for delivering that information to application developers or systems analysts.
Systems analysts, who usually have a background in computer science or computer engineering, evaluate the technology needs of the organization and develop solutions to satisfy that demand. In contrast to business analysts, who tend to deal with specific business units, systems analysts concentrate on the needs of the whole company.
In order to be successful in these roles, IT professionals have to develop their understanding of the business, as well as their written and verbal communication skills. “I come from a technical background myself, and I had to learn how to make the transition,” Stefano said. “I’d write a memo, and they’d say, ‘What’s the point?’ and I’d say, ‘Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?’ To them, it wasn’t so obvious. I learned to see what they were looking at. You’ve got to move the key elements up to the top. You’ve got to cast it in some form that they can grasp, and understand the importance: Why are we doing this, and what’s it going to do for my bottom line?”
UC Irvine Extension is offering educational tracks in both of these career areas with its Business Analyst Certificate Program and the Systems Analyst Certificate Program, Stefano said. Most students can complete either certificate within three or four academic quarters (a quarter is 10 weeks long), depending on the number of courses they can take each quarter.
For more information, see http://www.umex.uci.edu.