Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Microsoft announces "Elevate America" initiative; look at its ICT Curriculum Roadmap; also, 10 large companies with no layoffs!

Microsoft has announced a new initiative called “Elevate America” which Microsoft says will help individuals prepare for “information and communications technology” careers in the 21st Century. The basic link is this.

The program has two components: one which is controlled by the individual, and another portion that is supposed to develop as partnerships with state or local governments. Microsoft says that many features are offered at low or no cost to individuals.

But the most interesting portion of the announcement is the ICT Curriculum Roadmap, “Pathways to Success”, and it looks rather like a vertical rendition of the London Underground (PDF link here).

You start by becoming a “digitally aware individual”. You can fork off to the left and become essentially a Business Analyst, eventually leading to budgets and project management. You can fork to the right (no political pun intendend) and become a Web or Windows Developer. (It’s logical to add Linux, Mac, and all kinds of other platforms, but the Microsoft map seems to derived from Visual Studio). This is pretty much parallel to what the mainframe (COBOL, etc) track was back in the 1970s, and of course includes databases as an important piece.

But most of the map is everything else, about how to be a real Geek. If you’re going to become a techie, though, you first learn Computer Hardware. (Yup, you have to become your own Geek Squad and fix your own HAL errors.) Then you can become a Support Technician, a Systems Administrator, an Enterprise Administrator, a Server Administrator, a Systems Engineer, or a Database Administrator. Most of these jobs are rather “operations like” and run 24 x 7. How things changed from when I started (although we always had the operators as the “doers” who were somehow separate from the coders and analysts). It’s hard for prior-generation professionals to fit themselves into the new order of things, which requires much more flexibility.

As an aside, AOL has a story today “Where Layoffs Won’t Happen” and mentions Verizon and Colgate as among the most stable companies, in “10 Large Companies that Won’t Cut U.S. Jobs,” here.

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