Underlying an IT professional’s career is that needling and constant fear that their technical skills will become obsolete. Given that most IT skills begin eroding at just two years it’s understandable, says Dr. Damien Joseph, an assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University, who authored the paper Sustainable IT-Specific Human Capital: Coping with the Threat of Professional Obsolescence, along with Christine Koh and Arthur Foo.
Traditionally, the feeling has been that to protect your career, you should simply learn and adopt more skills. More skills translates to increased employability. But Joseph contends IT professionals can also defer development to other people, meaning if their company needs a new IT skill, they can let one of their coworkers spend the time to learn it.
While the options for someone who defers skill learning is limited, it’s not the death of their career. Even if you defer the new knowledge, you should still be able to find jobs at other organizations. Joseph theorizes that these other organizations have less up-to-date technologies.
Michael Gallivan, assistant professor at Georgia State University, wrote a dissertation on the same topic fifteen years ago. He believes that now maintaining tech skills is the employee’s responsibility. In the mid 90s and before, it was seen as the company’s responsibility. Today, that’s changed, he says. Employees realize it’s at least a 50/50 shared responsibility, if not more weighted on the employee.