'Right' skills burn job hunters

Employers' preference for information technology workers with "the right skills at the right time" is preventing entry and advancement in the job market, according to a report to Congress published by the Commerce Department.

Many IT workers participating in the study said one of the biggest barriers to employment is employers' demand for workers whose capabilities exactly match a highly specific technical skill set.

According to the 225-page report, "Education and Training for the Information Technology Workforce," employers favor candidates with postsecondary education, particularly four-year technical degrees, but experience may be the most important factor in a hiring decision. The experience requirement can extend to recent college graduates and current workers who have acquired new skills through training but lack experience applying those skills.

The report is based on a Web-based qualitative survey and eight roundtable discussions conducted nationwide by the Commerce Department's Technology Administration. Participants included employers, IT workers and education providers. *

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