May 2010 Theme:
IT Workforce
Guest Editor's Introduction by Tom Costello

It isn’t hard to find articles and white papers ranting about the coming shortage of IT talent. Some of these discourses focus on the causes and symptoms of the ever-shrinking IT workforce, and many extol the need to expand the pool of proficient IT talent. Suggestions include increasing the student flow, expanding passport visas, and attracting more business talent to IT.

There is far less press on how to retain or best use our existing talent. To be sure, we must find ways to fill vacancies created by attrition and new positions emerging from business expansion and innovation. More importantly, though, we owe it to our profession and its current and potential members to leverage our 50-plus years of experience and data to observe, analyze, define, and foster the qualities of IT professional excellence, not just the volume. We must assess systemic challenges—and solutions—to benefit the current and future global development of our IT workforce.

To that end, this issue of Computing Now is featuring six articles from the Computer Society Digital Library (CSDL). In “Personal Skills for Computing Professionals,” (login required for full text) Luis Fernandez-Sanz presents results from European studies of IT employment data. He outlines the skills and roles that employers expect in the IT workforce—interesting in both what’s on the list and what’s not, in how the list has changed over time, and in how it might evolve to benefit both our profession and its influence in society. Although the research and approach used in “Anatomy of the Information Security Workforce” (login required for full text) focus on cybersecurity, author JinKyu Lee and his colleagues present insight into generational differences and overall career motivation that can apply beyond the security discipline and industry.

Women in Cybersecurity: A Study of Career Advancement” (login required for full text) also focuses on the security domain, but Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen and her coauthors outline systemic challenges facing women in all roles and levels of the profession. In “Women and Minorities in Information Technology,” (login required for full text) Virginia Watson Ross and Valerie B. Thomas review the causes, alternatives, improved approaches, and results of broadening the IT demographic mix.

Innovative Strategies to Build IT Workforce” (login required for full text) takes an education-centric approach to increasing the volume of graduates with relevant skills. Authors Lakshmi Prayaga, Laura J. White, and Sikha Bagui outline a structure for university and industry partnerships, curriculum redesign, community awareness, and early engagement of students. Finally, in “Making Sense of Software Development and Personality Types,” (login required for full text) Luis Fernando Capretz and Faheem Amed provide a fascinating view on the connection between certain Myers-Briggs personality type indicators and their suitability to specific roles on software development teams.

These articles provide different perspectives and data on workforce development. I encourage you to consider them a starting point for leveraging more information. The CSDL and IEEEXplore offer huge collections of professional research, experience, and results.

Lastly, I ask you to choose one tactic or solution to develop for the benefit of your work and our profession as a whole. We can’t change the future with any one article or issue, but we can change it one professional at a time. Join us in building a stronger future IT workforce.


Guest Editor

Tom Costello is CEO of UpStreme, a business and technology management consultancy with practice specialties in enterprise strategies and software logistics. Contact him at tcostello@upstreme.com or www.upstreme.com.