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Technology firms should focus on 'raw talent' rather than experience

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Talent that can cross-train: the only way to keep abreast of the rapid rate of change

Technology companies should focus on raw talent rather than experience in specific programmes, according to development firm Scott Logic's technology director Colin Eberhardt.

“We look for talent that we can cross-train,” Eberhardt told HR magazine. “That’s the only way to be successful with the rapid rate of change in the industry.”

“Ten years ago you went to university, learned a technology, got a job using it and you were done. Technologies became established and mature. Now technology is driven by communities, and there is a lot more churn.

“Some of the technologies in use today will be gone in three or four years' time,” he added. “What we look for is raw talent; the ability to be cross-trained and use unfamiliar technologies in a matter of weeks.”

Eberhardt’s advice comes as job posts looking for professionals with Docker expertise are reported to have increased almost tenfold (991%) in the last 12 months, according to cloud computing company Rackspace.

Docker is an open platform that allows developers to design and manage the cycle of application development, testing and distribution. Since last year it has jumped 317 places to number two in a list of the 500 most sought-after IT skills/job titles.

The typical salary offered to candidates with Docker experience has also increased by 28%, which is almost 21% more than the average salary growth in the UK during the same period.

Rackspace UK managing director Darren Norfolk said that there were not enough candidates with the right skillsets already in the IT industry.

“Last year it was all about DevOps coming to the fore, but the demand for Docker [knowledge] has surged over the last 12 months,” he said.

“We’re in a position where every technology company – big or small – is fighting for the same small pool of talent. To succeed, technology companies that accept the need for fine-grained skills must nurture existing staff and adopt an open-minded recruitment strategy that considers applicants who can refine their technical skills through on-the-job training and experience."