Skills and Competencies of Information Technology Professionals: A Systematic Literature Review

Skills and Competencies of Information Technology Professionals: A Systematic Literature Review

Suchitra Ajgaonkar (Symbiosis International University, India) and Netra Neelam (Symbiosis International University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1279-1.ch004


Information technology (IT) is a vital source of economic growth across developed and developing countries. Skill gaps are significant barriers to technology adoption by many industries; therefore, this chapter reviews research studies sampling IT professionals to identify a whole gamut of IT professionals' skills and competencies. This systematic literature review comprises of exhaustive search for articles through Scopus database with empirical evidence or theoretical models meant for working IT professionals. Critical analysis of prominent papers is done to bring forth existing research categories (typology) and furnish generic as well as specific skills and competencies. This study attempts to become a resource for integration of IT professional capability research and a comprehensive report for researchers, practitioners, educators, and institutions. Tables containing list of publishing journals, country- and industry-wise article distribution, and prominent paper methodology are provided.
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Businesses are continually evolving in a fast paced environment resulting from advancements in technologies, newer business practices and ever changing social situations including geopolitics (Goles, Hawk, & Kaiser, 2008). It is now well-established through various sources that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is immensely capable of transforming economies; therefore businesses need to invest in IT infrastructure as it is a vital source of economic growth, both in developed and developing economies. ICTs drive social and economic development by generating employment at both global and local level (Global IT report, 2015; Jorgenson & Vu, 2005). In 2015, Economic and Social Affairs Department (United Nations) have claimed that within a decade, internet provision at households have increased twice as much, that gives 46% homes the ability to connect with the world using an online platform. This expansion affirms ICT as ‘critical drivers’ in the mission to accomplish sustainable development goals.

In 2018, Future of Jobs Report (World Economic Forum) have emphasized that significant skill gaps at local level have impacted negatively on adoption of technology in a range of industries. The report delineates ICT, aviation and financial services, a few among those facing the outcome of the skill gap menace. Consequently, IT professionals will have to upgrade their knowledge and skills to survive, adapt and thrive in the ever changing IT industry (Mahatanankoon, 2007).

In addition to the skill gap problem, the demographics of IT professionals are now seeing changes due to a mix of events such as: global outsourcing, retirements of earlier generations and decreased admissions to universities, this calls for changes in IT capabilities desired by IT function (Bullen, Abraham, Gallagher, Simon & Zwieg, 2009; Hawk et al., 2012). This is not limited to developed countries even developing countries need to address the skills gap, changes and upgradation at all levels. In-depth interviews conducted by Kong, Chadee and Raman (2013) revealed that in developing countries like India, students passing from universities are not industry ready and therefore organizations find it difficult to deploy them quickly on live projects, costing several months of training. Ironically, organizations loose these trained professionals in market competition. In light of this, universities and colleges need the right perspective from experienced IT professionals, especially skills and competencies required by organizations that could help students make the right career choices, and furthermore, individuals will continue upgrading to increase their marketability (Hawk et al., 2012).

Hawk et al. (2012) places an argument on the worldwide acceptance of the notion that IT professionals should be equipped with a ‘combination of diverse skills’ (p.3); however no research studies address the fundamental problem of identifying and grouping exact skills. This has resulted in the inability to consistently draw differences and similarities among skill categories across different periods of time, as a consequence IT skills research lacks integration and a summative theory construction.

This insight makes this systematic literature review an important step toward classifying IT skills and competency studies done on working IT professionals, and put forth a table of typologies of relevant research studies. The intention is to encourage future research to consider a unifying theory construction and testing.

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