Jobs galore exist for Bermudians in IT if you get qualified – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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Jobs galore exist for Bermudians in IT if you get qualified

All the news flying around about large companies outsourcing their information technology (IT) departments may cause some young people to shy away from IT as a possible career choice, but many veterans in the industry say IT is still a great choice despite the current setbacks. The good news for Bermudians is that 40 percent of the estimated 450 IT jobs in Bermuda are filled with expatriate workers. That means that with the right training there are about 180 potential jobs out there that could be available to Bermudians. And while total positions filled in the economy fell by about two percent at the end of 2009, IT positions remained constant. That’s not to say IT jobs were unaffected by the ongoing financial crisis, but within IT, demand for certain job roles is shifting. It is important to look at IT as a variety of specialities. In some areas, demand for skills such as network administration and web development may be stable, while the need for people with expertise in virtualisation or computer security is increasing. “Fifty percent more IT security jobs are listed on dice.com this year than last year,” said Bermudian Mike Harris, who is chief technology officer (CTO) for Quo Vadis, an Internet security and managed hosting provider. Dice.com is a technology job search website. “There are plenty of job opportunities for managing computing resources around the globe, people just have to embrace the changes. We are getting more dependent on IT, not less.” According to Mr Harris, other areas of growth include cloud computing (the process of outsourcing data centre management of IT equipment and resources), virtualisation and the IT audit function. Ronnie Viera, senior vice-president of information technology and operations at First Atlantic Commerce, agreed. He said: “IT risk management is more prevalent in organisations now, because management appreciate the risks to the organisation from IT. Now there are security programmes in place and visibility of IT issues at the board level of a company. Included in that is project and operational risk management.” The bad news is that outsourcing of certain IT roles is definitely a concern for many people in the technology industry. Mr Viera said help desk and network infrastructure roles have been commoditised. “You can do help desk work from anywhere now, it’s been going on for years,” he said. “There are still jobs in Bermuda like that, but they are becoming fewer. Jobs that are really required and are more difficult to outsource are roles like business analysis, project management and IT security.” He said where a job straddles IT and business, it’s more difficult to bring in a consultant; a company gets more value out of a full-time employee. He said it was unlikely a company would outsource development and management of a key business application, but that it was definitely more of the non-technical side of IT that will stay in-house. Ben Draper, technology director at Validus Re said: “Programming doesn’t work well as a single skillset in Bermuda. Programming is expensive here, and you don’t have to be located here to do it. I think you will find work, but in the long run it will be tougher.” Mr Draper said that new programme development is usually the first thing that companies cut from their budgets in a soft market. However, in the next 18 months, when the financial picture improves, Bermuda may see a spike in demand for contract programmers because companies presently have a lot of postponed projects, and they won’t want to hire large numbers of full-time programmers. IT veterans also stress the importance of education and self-motivation. In the IT industry, two- or four-year degrees are now common, but certification is also very important because it gets your foot in the door. Mr Viera was keen to stress that no company has the budget to take an employee and train them from zero knowledge you at least need a foundation of technical knowledge. IT is a very broad set of disciplines and simply having a degree doesn’t demonstrate to prospective employers core areas of knowledge. Degrees are important but certifications help to demonstrate a level of expertise and the area of specialisation. IT workers typically obtain certifications from individual technology vendors that signify expertise in a vendor product; there are also vendor neutral certifications. Mr Draper highlighted other reasons for gaining certification. He said: “If you’re going to be competing with expatriate workers for jobs, you will have to compete side by side with people who have those certifications.” And certifications typically increase compensation. According to Mr Draper, a student just graduating from university with no certifications can expect to earn a salary of about $50,000; someone with a sought-after certification can expect to make a six-figure salary. However, salaries vary widely and are greatly influenced by experience and skills that are in demand at any point in time. Mr Viera stressed that junior IT workers won’t make as much money starting out as some other professions, but over time a dedicated individual can do very well. From an employer point of view, a certification is an easy criterion used to measure people. Barry Kilborn, chief risk and compliance officer at Quo Vadis, started out at accounting firm Ernst & Young in financial audit, but moved into IT risk after expressing a strong interest in technology. He said it was “something I showed some interest in, and they asked me to participate”. Mr Kilborn recommended students ensure they get basic IT skills and get involved with professional groups such as the local chapter of Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) or the SysAdmin, Audit, Network, and Security (SANS) Institute. Successful IT careers rely on networking with peers, as well as possessing the qualities of self-motivation, desire, and a good work ethic. “I always made sure I took business courses so I could understand the business I was in,” said Mr Viera. “If you want to start working your way up the ladder, you have to start learning the business, and appreciate and anticipate what their needs are so you can be more productive to the organisation”. He explained that there is often a misconception that IT is all technical. “I’ve always enjoyed straddling business and IT roles,” he said. “I’ve been involved with business strategy and customers, but I’m always able to go back to IT and manage an IT project that supports the business strategy.” Some people may argue that change is the only constant in the IT industry. Historically, Bermuda companies bought their software and operated their own IT infrastructure and data centres, but this is gradually changing. Driven by the need to keep costs down and remain competitive, companies are increasingly allowing important services to be managed externally, using virtualisation and cloud computing techniques. These changes have ramifications for IT workers and how they manage IT. “The focus must evolve to meet the changing boundaries of IT and international standards, for topics like privacy and business continuity,” said Mr Kilborn. “IT workers must develop a good understanding of the evolving business issues surrounding their work; proficiency in technology is not enough.” Mr Draper recommended that students take as many different subjects as possible in school to get a broad base, then try to find that first job in consulting. He said: “Consulting will expose you to many things. You may think you know what you want to do, but you may find differently when you get out of school. If you find a job right out of school, you can get yourself pigeon-holed.” He said that in addition to experience, consulting helps one master the skill of how to learn new technologies. He also recommended students apply for internships. Several local companies have recognised how difficult it is to find local IT skills. Mr Viera said that qualified Bermudians are so hard to come by, his company participates in the Technology Leadership Forum (www.tlf.bm). This is an IT internship programme sponsored by Belco, the Bermuda Hospitals Board, the Bermuda Department of E-Commerce, Quo Vadis and others, and is designed foster local IT talent. The prime objectives, according to the Forum’s website, are to encourage dialogue, address issues, propose action steps and be a networking group of peers. Participants apply and have to go through a vetting process, competing for spaces. As part of the programme, interns are placed with participating companies and are given meaningful work projects, in addition to completing a group project. They also receive training from sponsors in areas such as information management, computer networking, security and IT best practices. Overall, the IT field is a vast and rapidly changing industry that can affect how successfully a company can execute its business strategy. IT can be a satisfying and dynamic field for people who cope well with change, regularly re-educate themselves, and make wise decisions regarding their areas of specialisation. Side Bar Vendor certifications in demand locally: MCITP Microsoft Certified IT Professional Windows Server, Windows SQL Server or Microsoft Exchange Server MCPD Microsoft Certified Professional Developer . Net CCNE Cisco Certified Network Engineer CCSE Checkpoint Certified Security Expert CCEE Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer Vendor neutral certifications in demand locally: PMP Project Management Professional, Project Management Institute CISA Certified Information Systems Auditor, ISACA CISM Certified Information Systems Manager, ISACA CISSP Computer Information Systems Security Professional, ISC (2)