Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: skills

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to IT and business skills.

The Connections Between Gaming and IT Contracting

Since the original Atari hit living rooms more than 40 years ago, gaming has been a way-of-life for millions of people around the world. While at one-point video games were known as time-wasters for youth and burn-outs, modern games have transformed far beyond the 8-world adventure that was Super Mario Bros. Today, people of all ages from all backgrounds game and there are proven benefits for young people as they develop and adults as they build careers.

The Critical Skills Youth Can Build from Video Games

The Connections Between Gaming and IT ContractingA recent Globe & Mail article highlights a study by a University of British Columbia economist, Nicole Fortin, that found a correlation between video games and higher math scores among teenagers. Fortin saw that video games are not only a strong predictor of future careers in finance, computer science or STEM (areas forecast to dominate the job market), but they also benefit students with attention deficit issues. In a separate Psychology Today article, Peter Gray, ph.D, agreed there are career and personal benefits to young people playing video games — cognitively, creatively, motivationally, emotionally and socially.

The rising popularity in video games has also given way for the eSports trend. In the same way that schools and recreational groups have competitive sports teams, many implemented eSports teams for kids to compete in video games, and it’s a huge thing! According to Teched Up Teacher, nearly 500 colleges in the United States support eSports at the club level and, even in Montreal, a high school launched a specialized eSports program streamed specifically for aspiring pro-gamers.

Students benefit from eSports for all the same reasons they gain a brighter future participating in sports and other extracurricular activities. The game skills themselves are just a small piece, as they also build team, social, emotional, and time management skills. Even those not playing the game participate by managing social media, casting games, and overseeing the team’s Twitch account.

How Video Games Can Help Your IT Career Today

The benefits of gaming extend beyond building skills of our future leaders. In fact, plenty of research and experiences point to IT professionals’ careers advancing as a result of this hobby. Dev.to published an article this past January with compelling arguments for a number of skills that can be improved through gaming. The nature of the most popular games requires one to communicate with people around the world, work together, and solve problems as a team, all while under pressure. This results in improved soft skills like communication, leadership, alertness, decision-making, stress management, and strategy.

So, bragging about your gaming hobby might just be something that progressive recruiters will find attractive. A study at Missouri University of Science and Technology looked specifically at World of Warcraft gamers and discovered they share improved traits of extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. Furthermore, gamers are more likely to have computer-mediated communication skills and technology-readiness skills. Essentially, the study found that the more achievements you have unlocked in a game, the more technology savvy you are in real life.

There continues to be different views on whether or not gaming truly does improve the skills of an IT professional or if being a gamer is a sign of a skilled worker. Just read through this extensive Quora discussion, which is filled with mixed opinions. Some IT hiring managers say they specifically look for gaming in an applicant’s profile, where other very skilled developers believe it to be a complete waste of time.

Are you a gamer? If so, do you believe it helps in your career and builds the skills needed to serve your clients? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave them in the comments below.

Develop a Learning Plan as an IT Contractor

Develop a Learning Plan as an IT ContractorConsumers around the world have come to accept that as soon as they go out and pay big bucks to have the latest and greatest technology of any sort, it will quickly be outdated. That’s because technology evolves and grows at a rate faster than we’ve ever seen. Companies are always researching and developing their products to remain competitive, and that means they need IT professionals working for them who are also always growing.

If you’re an independent contractor and decide at some point in your career that it’s alright to stop learning, you will quickly find yourself in serious trouble when trying to find new work. To stay on top, you must develop a training plan for yourself and to do that, you have to know the up-and-coming skills clients are seeking. For example, Dice claims the top 5 programming languages expected to dominate the future are Kotlin, Swift, Rust, MATLAB and Python.

Of course, depending on your situation, knowing the hottest programming languages may not be useful to you. Simple Programmer also compiled a list of upcoming skills to learn, and they broke it down based on specialty. With some broader areas, this list is especially helpful to the IT professional looking to expand into new areas:

  • Web Development
    • js
    • Functional Programming
    • Browser Extensions
  • Software Development
    • Blockchain
    • Internet of Things
    • Cybersecurity
  • Mobile Apps
    • Augmented Reality
    • Mobile Payments

Even when armed with the knowledge of what to learn, the next step in building your learning plan is knowing how you will acquire that information. Learning new skills, especially tech skills, does not come easily to everyone, and we all learn differently. Dice suggests some of these methods to pick up new skills:

  • Shadow a Mentor
  • Break Down Skills into Microbehaviours
  • Train for Programs You’re Passionate About
  • Be Flexible with Your Training Methods
  • Attend Conferences and User Groups
  • Apply New Skills Quickly

The 5-Hour Rule states that you must spend at least 5 hours per week learning new skills if you want to stay relevant and succeed, and inspirations such as Barack Obama, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates all subscribe to it. How much time do you devote to building your IT skills and knowledge? Is it time to get your plan on to paper?

Top Tech According to Stack Overflow

Once again, Stack Overflow has put together one of the most comprehensive surveys of developer trends in their annual Developer Survey. There are a plethora of results and insights in there, from demographics of developers around the world, information on how developers think and, of course, leading technologies being used today.

On top of general popularity of various languages and platforms, the Stack Overflow survey is unique in that it looks at the most loved (technologies being used where the developer expressed interest in continuing to do so), dreaded (technologies being used where the developer has no interest in continuing) and wanted (technologies developers aren’t using but expressed an interest in using it) technologies, as well as the top paying ones.

Top Programming, Scripting and Markup Languages

It’s no surprise that once again JavaScript is the most commonly used programming language, nor should anyone be shocked that Python continues to rise and this year became more popular than C#. Interestingly enough, those are also the top to languages developers most want to work with and also make the top 10 list of languages developers want to continue using.

Top Platforms

There also isn’t much surprise in the most popular platforms used among developers, with Linux and Windows Desktop or Server being the ones where most developers have done work in the past year. The difference is that more than three quarters of the people currently using Linux want to continue doing so, where as Windows didn’t even make the top 10 most loved platforms. It’s also worth noting that although WordPress makes the list as one of the most popular platforms, it’s also one of the most dreaded.

Best Paid Jobs

Perhaps you don’t care about what people use and enjoy using, you want to know what’s going to bring in the most cash. For starters, especially if you’re joining the workforce and planning your career path, here’s a look at the top paid developer types around the world and what they make in USD:

Top Paying Job Titles According to Stack Overflow

More specifically, these are the technologies making money…

Top Paying Skills According to Stack Overflow

Fun Facts from HackerRank’s 2018 Developer Skills Report

Last week’s post summarizing the Dice 2018 Tech Salary Report had a few interesting charts around rates and wages of IT professionals in the United States. The information was compiled at the end of 2017 through a survey sent to thousands of technology workers. It turns out Dice wasn’t the only ones out surveying their readers. HackerRank recently surveyed nearly 40,000 developers to get a pulse on their skills and what makes them tick. Here’s a quick summary of the some of the more interesting results…

Most Developers Started Coding Before They Finished High School

As Hackerrank points out in their report, 25% of developers started coding before they knew how to drive. If you look at the chart below, it’s easy to see that the majority were coding before they finished high school. Interestingly enough, the report states that 47% of developers who are currently between the ages of 45 and 54 started coding before they were 16 but only 20% of the younger generation (currently age 18-24) started coding under 16.

Fun Facts from HackerRank's 2018 Developer Skills Report

Another finding in the report related to age ranks the UK and Australia as the countries who have the highest share of developers who started coding between 5 and 10. Canada sits in 5th place — 7.2% of our country’s developers started coding at that young age. The overall findings help back-up the argument that schools need to continue introducing coding skills and techniques at a young age to help build our future.

Clients Care More About Your Problem-Solving Abilities Than Your Coding Skills

When asked about core competencies developers’ hiring managers look for, an average of 94.9% including problem solving… only 56.6% said programming language proficiency which ranked 2nd. Something to keep in mind next time you update your resume.

Fun Facts from HackerRank's 2018 Developer Skills Report

The Most Popular Languages Are…

What would a survey summary be if we didn’t include the most popular languages among the respondents? To nobody’s surprise, JavaScript, Java, Python, C++ and C topped the list of languages employers seek out.

Fun Facts from HackerRank's 2018 Developer Skills Report

Naturally, developers are always trying to enhance their skills and learn the languages most likely to get them a solid job. As HackerRank points out, developers are following the lead of the Silicon Valley tech giants, with languages like Go, Python, Scala, Kotlin and Ruby being identified as the most in-demand skills to learn.

Fun Facts from HackerRank's 2018 Developer Skills Report

IT Challenges and Priorities of North American Companies

IT Challenges and Priorities of North American CompaniesHow up-to-date are you on the struggles and strategies of your industry? Understanding what companies are facing can help you plan which skills you will enhance over coming months, as well as help you develop a better sales pitch for your contracting business. There are plenty of sources and studies available to help you understand potential clients’ agendas, and new research is being published regularly. Here are a couple recent ones…

A CDW Canada survey of Canadian organizations learned that their top security concerns are intrusion prevention (39%) and Ransomware protection (35%). Even with these concerns, most are still exploring or implementing cloud deployments; in fact, half of them are planning hybrid solutions in 2017. While most organizations are adopting cloud strategies in one way or another, only 16% would consider themselves a “cloud-first” organization.

The survey revealed some additional IT-related priorities for Canadian organizations. For example, when asked about emerging technologies that will have the most impact on their business, the top responses were analytics and big data, as well as the Internet of Things (IoT). In addition, 10% plan to replace legacy tools and applications with new technologies and 31% plan to upgrade or update their current tools and applications in their unified communications strategies.

South of the border, mid-market US-based companies are having a challenging time attracting and retaining IT talent — that’s according to a recent CFO Research survey. The findings detail how 49% of finance executives state that their challenges to keep tech professionals in the company have an adverse effect on them. Once they do secure IT employees, the struggles with those people continue with technical competency, strategic planning and vision, industry knowledge, project management, and customer service skills.

Naturally, the US companies surveyed are dealing with their issue by turning to external services. Rather than training or continuing their search, CFO Research learned that most are bridging the gap by moving to cloud services and eliminating a need to source, manage and maintain computer hardware, as well as turning to managed IT services. Regardless of their concerns about costs, the provider’s ability to understand the company, service quality or security breaches, the overall feeling among the executives surveyed is that this solution has been successful.

Have you come across any recent studies about your industry that help you prioritize your training? If so, please share the links below so other readers can benefit.

Change Management – How to set yourself apart as an OCM Consultant

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

Change Management – How to set yourself apart as an OCM ConsultantWhen Eagle first launched the Executive and Management Consultant division back in 2011, Change Management quickly became an area of specialty. Clients often complained that there was a general lack of understanding about the skill, and when they asked technical staffing agencies for qualified resources they would often confuse it with technical change management and end up with a handful of ITIL resumes.

There is no question that Change Management is an essential part of project success, whether for system implementations, business transformations or organizational change efforts. Data available on Prosci’s website sites that “Initiatives with excellent change management are six times more likely to meet objectives than those with poor change management.” This highly specialized skill requires that consultants can operate at both a strategic and tactical level, working closely with senior executive level stakeholders to drive transformation efforts, while understanding how the nuances of business change will impact employees at all levels of an organization and ensuring that they are not only adequately trained but ‘bought into’ the efforts.

With many people becoming interested in the field and Prosci and other certifications readily available, there has been a notable increase in consultants coming into the market over the past 2-3 years. So how do experienced Change practitioners set themselves apart in this ever-competitive market?

The ACMP is the global Association of Change Management Professionals. Last year, they introduced the CCMP designation – which is a globally recognized credential that ‘defines best practices in Change Management’. Unlike other certifications that require no previous experience or training, the CCMP has stringent eligibility criteria (similar to the PMP certification process). This has given the CCMP certification much more credibility in the market. Gaining the CCMP is one of the ways that experienced Change practitioners can differentiate themselves in the market. Are there other ways that you have set yourself apart? We’d love to hear from you!

Making Artificial Intelligence a Priority

Making Artificial Intelligence a PriorityIt’s no secret that AI is the next big thing and has been dominating technology headlines throughout 2017. Microsoft, although a little late to the party, recently released their annual report for the company’s 2017 fiscal year, which made it clear that AI is now their top priority. According to this article from CNBC, AI had 6 references in the report, compared to last year’s which had 0. On top of that, their corporate vision statement removed references to “mobile first” and added a line about AI, as well, the company has been out buying AI startups like Maluuba and Swiftkey.

Given Microsoft, one of the world’s tech giants, is clearly prioritizing AI in their future strategy, what are you doing to ensure you don’t fall behind as an IT professional? If you’re interested in moving into the Artificial Intelligence space, here are some AI skills a recent ZDNet article says you’ll need:

  • Machine learning
  • Programs such as R, Python, Lisp, Prolog, Scala, as well as some classics like C, C++ and
  • Mathematical knowledge such as probability, statistics, linear algebra, mathematical optimization
  • Understanding of specific platforms and toolsets (ex. TensorFlow)
  • Deductive reasoning
  • Decision making
  • Business development

This article from The Institute (the IEEE news source) also weighs in with what a technology professional needs in their arsenal in order to get into AI. It suggests that while people do come into the field from data-heavy science fields such as physics and biology, a background in software engineering is critical a must-have. A sense of curiosity and drive for problem solving is also mandatory to land a job with the top companies.

Is AI something that interests you? If so, how have you made it a priority to develop your skills and ensure you’re positioned at the front of the line for a long career in Artificial Intelligence?

4 Ways to Learn New Technical Skills

There are a number of reasons you should always be learning new skills. First, the IT contracting world is overwhelmingly competitive, especially in fast-paced markets like Toronto, Calgary and Montreal. There are hundreds of other people applying to the same jobs as you are, and you need to stand out. Even if you’re competitive in your current position, if you never learn new skills, you’ll never be able to move into more senior roles and earn more money.

We don’t need to work too hard to sell this concept to IT professionals. Most of our readers are already well aware of the importance of professional development. They’re also swamped for time and resources, making it difficult to begin learning that new skill. So how can you fit it in? This quick video from Dice has some answers!

Awkward is the New Awesome

If you ever get called “awkward” don’t take it as an insult. That’s according to this video from Business Insider. Psychologist Ty Tashiro, author of “Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially awkward and Why That’s Awesome,” explains the reasoning behind people’s awkwardness and why it actually speaks volumes to their abilities.

It turns out, those of you “nerding out” and dressing up in elaborate costumes at Comic Con may be considered awkward, but it also means you’re focused and very knowledgeable at what you do!

Have You Learned Kotlin Yet?

Are you staying up-to-date on the latest skills? Technology changes are always happening and to remain competitive as an IT professional, especially a programmer, you need to stay on top or you risk falling behind.

Kotlin was recently announced as an official language for Android and this infographic from Programiz proves that it’s growing at outstanding rates with plenty of opportunities for programmers. According to their website, Kotlin is concise, easy-to-use, tool-friendly and, above all, safe. Have you become well-versed in it yet?

Kotlin Infographic