Large companies are hiring college graduates for IT positions with little or no IT training or experience. National Public Radio reports that companies like Siemens and Hewlett Packard are looking for graduates with a liberal arts education.
Could it be it’s the end to specialization? Not likely. But it does point to an emerging trend where IT departments will work closer with the business units. Today, tech’s who know some Java with a degree in accounting may have an advantage over techs who specialize in Java.
For example, food giant ConAgra‘s IT internship program, values a degree in journalism or biology as much as one in computer science. “We look for [interns] to have more than a single dimension in terms of what they bring to the table. Just technical talent is not enough,” Garrett Chetay, CIO of ConAgra told NPR. “Think of what it takes to produce a product, what it takes to run a factory, what it takes to run a payroll. All of these business processes are reduced to some form of computer logic.”
Because information technology is woven into nearly every aspect of production, a company like ConAgra needs techs who understand the business and employees in the business unit to understand tech. Consequently, tech skills are only one attribute when they look to hire.
Debra Humphreys from Association of American Colleges and Universities told NPR, “What we’re hearing from employers over and over again is that students need a combination of broad skills and abilities that you get from a really good college education.”
Conagra, which employees 700 IT people, has a more progressive approach with its IT department. As well as recruiting techs with non-tech backgrounds, the food giant doesn’t require assigned workspaces, and allows employees to work from home one day a week.