Web Development Tops Skills in Demand

FRAMINGHAM (05/08/2000) - Web development expertise now ranks as the most sought-after skill in information technology departments, outpacing networking for the first time, according to a survey of 1,400 CIOs at companies with at least 100 employees.

However, networking was just two percentage points behind in the survey by RHI Consulting Inc. in Menlo Park, California. Some 21% of the CIOs said networking was the fastest-growing skill area in their departments; 23% said Internet or intranet development skills were the fastest.

RHI has been conducting the survey on a semiannual basis for four years.

That the numbers for networking and Web development were so close didn't surprise John Kendzior, an IT recruiter at Harvard University. Kendzior said he expects to hire 12 to 15 network or systems administrators, plus a similar number of Web developers.

Michael Boyd, an analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Massachusetts., maintained that networking and Internet skills are so closely intertwined that it's difficult to separate them.

"How can you develop a Web server capability without having a pretty good understanding how it's going to interact over the Internet and internal networks?" he said.

Internet Skills Pervade IT

Boyd added that Internet skills pervade virtually every area of IT. "There aren't any IT jobs that I'm aware of where you don't have to have some kind of Internet skills," he said.

Barbara Gomolski, research director at Gartner Institute Inc. in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, said the type of networking experience employers seek these days is, in fact, Web-related. This experience includes load-balancing and network security skills, she said.

The Web skills employers need most are integration abilities, said Gomolski. "A lot of companies have built Web sites but didn't connect [them] to existing systems," she said.

Integration skills have become crucial with the emergence of Web marketplaces and other business-to-business sites, said Gomolski. These portals are "complicated because they have to build detailed back ends. There's a lot of research going into developing [business-to-business] market sites. They're labor-intensive projects," she said.

The good news, said Gomolski, is that IT workers who have fourth-generation language or other experience developing graphical applications in a client/server environment can typically be easily retrained to develop applications in Java or another Web development environment.

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