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Retraining In IT

Although IT is highly ubiquitous, a skills shortage of people with IT related qualifications is becoming more and more acute as the numbers of graduates fail to keep pace of job vacancies in the sector.

According to CIO, an organisation providing information to the UK’s business technology leaders, the IT industry is expected to grow at five times the UK average over the next 10 years. At the same time they’ve observed how a lack of education and careers support among young people has caused a shortage of talent.

Large employers are currently struggling to employ people with the correct level of qualifications and experience to vacancies for coders, developers and programmers.

CTO at thetrainline.com, Mark Holt explained that because they have a large website based operation processing enormous amounts of transactions, that they have vacancies for as many developers as they can recruit. The difficulty is that despite receiving plenty of applications, not all of them have the required competencies. Indeed, there appears to be a dearth of talent available.

Vacancies Across Europe

It isn’t just in the UK where employers are becoming increasingly concerned about skills shortages. Figures released by the European Commission suggest that within five years there’ll be anything up to 825,000 IT vacancies across the EU.

The demand for IT professionals grows at about 3% each year, but the number of IT graduates declined by 13% between 2006 and 2013, after having almost doubled in the preceding six years, according to Commission figures.

Cynics might suspect that with such a gap it would simply mean that companies would lower their expectations regarding qualifications and experience when appointing new staff. As yet, this hasn’t happened, possibly because of newspaper headlines relating to breeches in IT security. As well as having to deal with a skills shortage, companies are under intense scrutiny to make sure that people’s personal data is safe. In other words, companies such as those that store data or use online transaction technologies simply cannot afford to hire people that do not have the required level of competency. Businesses are increasingly finding that they need to look beyond the technology they use to ‘how’ it is used and take responsibility to make sure that it is being implemented safely and proficiently.

It’s well known that IT underpins most aspects of Military planning and operations and, of course, data and communications need to be secure. This means that Service-leavers come to the marketplace with the correct mindset and experience in handling sensitive material – and in certain roles, their level of security clearance is also seen as a plus-point.

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Existing Qualifications

You may already have acquired one or more of the following qualifications during your Service in the Armed Forces:

  • Advanced Modern Apprenticeship Communications Technologies.
  • Level 2 NVQ in Communication Technologies (Practitioner).
  • Foundation Modern Apprenticeship (FMA).
  • NVQ Level 2 in IT.
  • BTEC Level 2 Dip in Professional Competence for IT and Telecoms Professionals (QCF).
  • BTEC Level 2 Cert in ICT Systems and Principles (QCF).
  • ME C3S Class 1:
  • BTEC Level 3 Dip in Professional Competence for IT and Telecoms Professionals (QCF).
  • BTEC Level 3 Cert in ICT Systems and Principles (QCF).

All of these qualifications will be attractive to employers and could set you on the way to one of several roles in IT, such as: business analyst, computer games designer or technical support person, computer hardware engineer or service technician, internet professional, telecommunications technician, IT product developer, IT technical sales specialist or IT trainer.  

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Becoming A Web Developer

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Web developers, programmers and coders are different job titles for highly similar roles. As the title suggests a web developer is primarily tasked with applications run over HTTP from a web server to a web browser.

Because most businesses, irrespective of size, usually have some need for an online presence, the demand for web developers is strong. Web developers can work in any number of ways for their employers, usually either as full time employees, independent consultants, contractors or even as ad hoc freelancers.

There are two distinct aspects to the role, those being: server-side and front-end. In other words, working behind the curtain on the web services that make the more public side run smoothly and efficiently. Depending on the size of the organisation you work for and therefore the size of the team you’re involved with, you may be required to specialise or be interdisciplinary.  

Typically, for example, the front-end requires a specialist developer to focus on the technologies sent to the client such as HTML, JavaScript, CSS whilst the server-side uses frameworks such as Perl, Python, Ruby, PHP, Java, ASP, .NET, .NET MVC (which are used to deliver content and scripts to the client).

The role of web developer can sometimes overlap into other areas of IT and require skill in handling database systems and/or knowledge about user experience design. The role is essentially about problem solving and resolving the relationship between web browser and other technologies and the user experience. Although this requires knowledge of technologies it is also essential that you are able to understand the nature of the client interface in order to provide sensible solutions that are workable for the clients/users.

There are no hard and fast requirements for web developers and the experiences and qualifications you’ve acquired whilst in the Armed Forces may well be enough for you to land a job. If there is a rule of thumb it is simply that you’ll need advanced knowledge of:

  • HTML/XHTML, CSS, JavaScript.
  • Server/Client side architecture.
  • Programming/Coding/Scripting in one of the many server-side frameworks (at least one of: Perl, Python, Ruby, PHP, Go, CFML ColdFusion, Java, ASP, .NET, .NET MVC).
  • Utilising databases.

A Web Developer earns an average salary of £24,804 per year. Most move on to other jobs if they have more than 10 years experience in this career. (Salary range is: £16,005 – £38,920.)

With experience a web developer can move on to other roles such as:

Software Developer

Average salary: £30,473

£21,060 – £49,986

And then to:

Software Development Manager

Average salary: £51,026

£36,755 – £68,049