Career Watch: 50 Hot Skills on the Rise

Q&A: Dan Hoffman

The CEO of M5 Networks explains why the company is paying for every employee to learn a musical instrument.

What is the rationale for paying for your employees to learn musical instruments -- and on company time? We call this program "M5 Rock." It's a fun way to reinforce some of the things that are really important to us as a company, like teamwork, listening to each other and, most importantly, learning. This is one of our core values. We grow as a company as fast as our people grow. People forget how to learn -- they forget to practice, they forget how to grapple with something uncomfortable until your body can do it as muscle memory. The program pushes people into a groove of learning that pays big dividends as they go back to learn to sell, support, manage projects, write code and so on.

What is M5 Networks' philosophy on training? First of all, we believe training and learning is one of the most satisfying and fun things you can do at work -- good for staff, good for the company. But you can't read a manual or attend a training seminar and expect it to stick. Real learning must have three elements: repetition, recursion and reciprocation. We design our training programs as themes that last many months on any topic. Recursion means we go after the same thing from many different angles, the way a word has more than one definition in the dictionary. Finally, you have to write or talk or work with the material, and this makes learning a team sport, well suited for a work environment.

Are there measurable effects, such as low turnover? We do have low turnover, but that's not the goal. In fact, we are happy when staff grow their careers with us and then move on. The most measurable effect is that staff that learn faster can do more and more and more. In 2007, we had about $150,000 of revenue per person. In 2010, we'll do almost $300,000 per person. There's real leverage in learning!

A New Job Site

The latest option for getting your virtual resume in front of technical recruiters and employers is the TechPloyr job search engine, recently launched nationwide by Blosme LLC. As the name implies, TechPloyr is strictly for technical employees. Costs are paid by the recruiters and employers that search resumes on the site,

50 Hot IT Skills on the Rise

Rank IT Certifications Noncertified IT Skills
1. SAS Certified Base Programmer SAP Basis components
2. Red Hat Certified Security Specialist RAD/extreme programming/agile programming
3. CompTIA Security+ Virtual private networks
4. SAS Certified Advanced Programmer Business continuity and disaster recovery planning
5. VMware Certified Professional Web 2.0 skills (AJAX, Adobe Flex, Adobe Flash, JavaScript, JSON)
6. GIAC Security Essentials Certification Windows 7
7. Citrix Certified Enterprise Administrator SAP Web Application Server
8. Cisco Certified Network Professional SAN/storage administration
9. Cisco Certified Internetwork Professional RFID/wireless sensors
10. Red Hat Certified Technician Python
11. HP Accredited Integration Specialist HTML/DHTML/XHTML
12. Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (all) Business performance management software/systems
13. Sun Certified Systems Administrator for Solaris SAP BPC (Business Planning and Consolidation)
14. Microsoft Certified Database Administrator SAP EBP (Enterprise Buyer Professional)
15. Cisco Certified Design Professional SAP FI -- FSCM (Financial Accounting -- Financial Supply Chain Management)
16. GIAC Certified Incident Handler Linux
17. CyberSecurity Forensic Analyst Ruby/Ruby on Rails
18. Certification Authorization Professional Social networks (tagging, virtual communities, social bookmarking, etc.)
19. Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (virtualization) SAP SCM (Supply Chain Management)
20. GIAC Security Audit Essentials SAP SRM (Supplier Relationship Management)
21. GIAC Secure Software Programmer ITIL v3 Foundation
22. IBM Certified Specialist - AIX Basic Ops SAP WM (Warehouse Management)
23. Avaya Certified Specialist Web Dynapro
24. Check Point Certified Security Administrator SAP APO (Advanced Planner and Optimizer)
25. GIAC Certified Windows Security Administrator SAP PP (Production Planning)

Here are the 25 certifications and noncertified skills most likely to increase in value over the next six months, as determined by Foote Partners LLC. But President David Foote cautions, "There is simply no such thing as a reliable six-month IT labor forecast in these volatile market conditions."

Source: Foote Partners IT Skills and Certifications Hot Lists, July 2010. rankings are based on interviews with hundreds of executives and primary decision-makers from the 2,000 companies in Foote's database of research partners.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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